Saturday, July 06, 2013

Espaňa por favor...

I have a Madrid thing going on. Well a Spanish thing in general but I find myself having been to the capital 4 times since last August. It’s getting to the point of delusional when I walk across Sol and feel more at home than actual home is these days. A touch of the old Wynn Stewart’s kicking in there methinks but let me tell you, it’s not a bad feeling.

So let’s accentuate the positive for a bit and consign the dark arts of French air traffic control to the dustbin. Or pipican. Three and a half hours late in getting to town... nuff said. As it was, at least I got there. Some other folks were left stranded.

I hit that old cuidad running alright and joined Murky, Eva and Lisa for some Mahou lubrication and tortilla then toddled up to meet Missy Ruth and Francisco just afore show time. The Young Fresh Fellows at El Sol is one of those total treats. There’s no such venue anywhere else and people will tell you that Glasgow audiences are the best in the world. That is not so. It may have been at one time but not anymore. Much drinking and dancing was done by all and this, followed by a session just around the corner in that home away from home, the mighty Wurlitzer. I saw a Tim Warren blast on fb recently declaring that British music was Americanised to be shipped back a la coals to Newcastle.
I tend to agree with that and the Fellows are another outstanding example of this theory in action. Hell’s teeth, I can even stand Beatle songs when they do them. Guide set lists weren’t adhered to and of the three shows I saw all of them were different. Sign of a class act that ain’t painted into a corner.

You see a pattern emerging here, right? Thursday was an early start for some of us, leading up to the A-Bones show and a subsequent late finish on Friday morning. Brooklyn’s finest and the W are an explosive combination and this was the first show they’d done with Bloodshot Bill sitting in for the other BB. The festivities went on even later than the previous night (morning?). The combo Teenage Mutant Trash that opened were pretty good too. Listen.

Just as well that Friday was a little less hectic then on the run up to leaving town. Travelling with Francisco and Ruth was a total treat for Lisa and I. Off the scale great. The coolest company one could ever hope to be in and what fantastic  terrain. Driving through mountain tunnels, one of them was a total mindblower where we went from bright blue and warm to dropping more than 15 degrees and sub-tropically dreich. Like a Jurassic trossachs and humming of eucalyptus. Warmer than Scotland ever gets but very similar appearance wise.

We arrive in Avilés, drop the gear at our cool, off kilter digs and get to the venue just before the band hit the stage. We missed The Reformers sadly and I figured that we’d see them in Vitoria, not knowing that they weren’t playing. The show took place underground from a giant egg designed by Oscar Niemeyer. Really I never dreamed it. Another blinder of a set that bore no resemblance to the setlist, a highpoint being a twisted re-telling of The Seekers “Georgy Girl”.

After the festivities, we hit a place called Malawy that was the only place we could find that passed for “food”. Locals stared at the TV sets even although there was nothing on there like they would in some science fiction mini-series. Tad ordered a vegetarian sandwich that came with a slice of ham but Ruth sorted it. The rest of us would have eaten a scabby horse and may well have done so.

The drive next day to Vitoria was equally epic. What a fantastic part of the world Northern Spain is. And how lucky were we to get to see it like this? There was time to explore a bit when we got to town and we even found a bar that served kalimotxo but never imbibed. A wee siesta was called for prior to heading for Hell Dorado, a place I’d heard about but never visited. What a joint. They serve drinks in glass glasses and people smoke. Just like vintage Espaňa. It’s like a recreation of the old NY Ritz. With perfect sound and layout, a really cracking place on the outskirts of town that is a credit to the folks who run it like a private club. Aptly named Club Sonico, this would be the perfect place to shoot a live video should anyone good feel the need to do so.

A bunch of shows in that area over this weekend was perhaps that was the reason why the place wasn’t packed but there was still a healthy attendance and those who went along were treated to a far better version of “Teenage Kicks” than I’m sure what traded as the actual Undertones delivered up the road.  We threw dance shapes long into the night and the dj played The Ben Vaughn Combo and The Skeletons and NRBQ and all was well with the world. The opening act was called something to do with Trash too but I can't recall the actual name. The girl in the band reminded me of Kim (Schifino).

Returned to our hotel in the wee hours again. This was the last show. It was almost over and I don’t think any of us wanted it to end. Next morning we met up for breakfast afore hitting the road and all too soon we were heading back toward Madrid and the airport but not before some more pintxos at Cafe Pancho and a wander in Burgos though. It was rough when we finally said “so long” but this will be continued. Somehow, somewhere, sometime. This is not over.

You can see a whole host of clips here. Fill your boots. Thanks to Gordon and Christophe.

A little down the page there, you read me typing about being tired of hearing about people dying. I never met James Gandolfini but I feel like I did. So waking up the morning the news about him broke (no extended pun intended) was shocking. I was obsessed with The Sopranos and I recall meeting Steven Van Zandt at Joey’s Birthday party he same weekend as Silvio killed Adriana. That was pretty amazing. There’s a photo of Avy and I with him outside Irving Plaza and he’s holding an Amy Allison CD but anyway I digress.

Thinking about how he bowed out in Italy correlates with something I was thinking while I was in Spain. Can’t recall if I said it out loud or not but it goes something like this. If it is at all possible, I want to go down doing what I was doing like that. While I imagine that it would cause undue hassle for a club, restaurant owner or perish forbid – my dance partner but it would be my choice to keel over in front of The Dahlmanns or the YFF or The A-Bones or the Quattros or just with the crew. Gandolfini was 4 years younger than me and that’s the wake up call right there. Another prod.

The fact that I haven’t gotten over (and may well never) this most recent adventure is neither there nor here. Took LAST Friday off to attend to mundanities like the central heating and car servicing so that meant I could schlep into Glasgow on Thursday evening. The reason? To meet  and hang out with Monsieur Jacques Ball of the Dig It! Parish and man of science with a beat on the “laws of physics”.  What a gent! And great stories too plus he told me that Ben Vaughn will be making for France

Cinema-wise, I saw "Populaire" and liked it. Wasn’t really able to do the EIFF like I saw two movies.  “The Berlin File” lollygads a bit to begin with but then it hits a high octane stride. It makes the most recent "Die Hard" and all that shit CGI look like "Driving Miss Daisy". I smell a sequel too so I’ll be looking out for that. “Call Girl” isn’t exactly a cakewalk but it’s an excellent film. It has an inherent seediness that has become a staple of Scandinavian grit. Even although the perceived idea that Sweden is a shining example, it is obviously beholden to the same corruption and sleaze as everyplace else. There was one little piece that actually made me shudder. Attention to detail of the period is exemplary too.

I got out of the habit of watching festival coverage on TV. Mostly because the acts they show on there stink. But a band or an act is a business to some degree and they’re working and presumably earning. None of my business that most of them don’t deserve a second glance far less listen but let’s leave that to one side. It’s an opportunity to be seen and heard, It potentially increases an acts audience exponentially and everything grows.

That my interest in music hasn’t waned to see me acting my actual age is a cause of much pondering to me. It may not necessitate analysis or even matter but something that does bring it into sharp focus is just how awful much of the perceived entertainment is nowadays. Aided and abetted by this chuffing internet which seems much more of a curse than a blessing to me at this point.

I’m at sixes and sevens. No - make that sixteens and seventeens maybe. Weekends flash by so quickly, particularly when you have no idea where to start with using such precious time wisely. I’m currently trying to deal with seemingly having ingested a hundred or so lines of uncut pollen having finally “tackled” the beast known as “The Hedge”. And no, that’s not the moniker of some balloon from a Boner + Co tribute band.


Benjamin said...

Sounds like a blast! Keith Streng had a Hell Dorado t-shirt on when I caught the Fleshtones on the 4th. Glad to read about more of your supersonic adventures in rock'n'roll, chief!

Anonymous said...

Saw the Dictators @ sol in 97. The best show I'd ever seen them play and I've seen them many times on our home turf of NYC. Spain is rock n roll heaven.

jc said...

Very nice story! I was just in Madrid last week on holiday and fell in love with the city. I am trying to reach Jeroen Vedder. Do you have his contact information? thanks

Lindsay Hutton said...

I'm not sure I have an up to date e-mail but I can send him yours via the facedog. Madrid is off the scale fantastic!