26 April 2014

Camel Tour 2014 - part five - that was the tour that was

click on photos to enlarge!

That was the tour that was. Here's a nice photo of the entire crew, the denizens of the big blue bus, posing outside the penultimate venue in Turin, Italy. From left to right: Jason Hart (progmaster general of the digital domains), Simon Grocott (backline amp and guitar duties and Tommy Cooper impersonations), Emma Edgar (unflappably expert tour manager), Derek Jones (brilliant lights in all senses of the words), Denis Clement (the multi-talented, multi-tasking man from Manawaukee), Derek Haggar (distinguished First Lieutenant of the Backline Territorials ATB and Bar), Ton Scherpenzeel (the dashing Dutchman, great keyboard player and our hero), Mike "Bunny" Warren (our prized and genial mixmaster general), Wing Commander Andrew Latimer (mentioned in despatches for exceptional guitar-playing under enemy fire), John "J-J" James (esteemed stage monitor mixmeister), Felicity Hall (our lady of the t-shirt boxes), and myself about whom I will say nothing.

the morning sun illuminates the curtains of my inner sanctum

But where did I leave off? It was overnight from Lisbon to Madrid. I awoke early to watch the entry into that great city and marvelled at the way our intrepid driver Craig managed to manoeuvre the long bus (and trailer) through the narrow streets. Then I noticed we were actually going around the same few blocks several times, waiting for the temporary parking space outside the theatre to be made available.

Madrid morning

The Teatro Nuevo Apolo is an old music hall type venue with original wood-panelled walls. It's quite narrow, only room for tiny side balconies but no boxes although you get the impression it would like to have had them. Two balconies above the stalls though and they were full of extremely enthusiastic attendees come the evening. We had a good time, again.

wood panelling
Teatro Nuevo Apolo

Before soundcheck I managed an hour's perambulation with Ton and Denis. Didn't quite make it to the Prado but who needs it when you have the shop windows around the Plaza de Tirso de Molina...

Happy Shop

This one was a very happy shop. Brightly coloured party dresses, original antique Chinese footsoldiers of the Imperial Guard, cheerful plastic flowers and some handy Bunny ears.

My Kind of Shop

This one was an excellent shop. Here you can stock up on 3-D Jesus posters, vampire capes, nylon flamenco dresses, false moustaches and get your Halloween window stickers in March already. What more do you want?

sad shop

This was a very sad shop window. To be honest I couldn't summon up the courage to venture inside. I regret it now of course. Perhaps I could have been of help. It obviously started out with the best intentions, seemingly offering a wide range of practical headgear, cute dolls and smiley flowers but something happened. Now I'll never know what it was. A family tragedy? Perhaps the owner became weighed down trying to keep up with the latest trends in hats? Perhaps he/she simply fell to the floor like the dummy head laid low by the final tartan trilby. There are so many stories we simply walk past without seeing.

And so to Barcelona...

early morning Barcelona from the bus

Another nice theatre called Barts. All nicely organised as in Madrid by Mr Robert Mills. Before sound check had time for a solitary amble to La Rambla and surrounding area and had an agreeable culinary experience in the market...

And then overnight again to Turin. Woke up to see the Italian Alps reflecting the early morning sun.

Good Morning

In Turin we played once again - last time was in 2000 or something like that - in a club called Hiroshima Mon Amour, named after the wonderful film made in 1959 by Alain Resnais  with a screenplay by Marguerite Duras, no less. Everybody would like to see that, here's a trailer. Anyway, it was a nice, fun, rock-club type gig (I like those), then it was off overnight to Vicenza, a very lovely town that was home to the great Renaissance architect, Andrea Palladio, several of whose edifices adorn the old town centre. Not least of these is the famous Teatro Olimpico, apparently the first enclosed theatre built. It has a fascinating raked stage with a trompe-l'oeil effect of streets retreating into the distance.

Stage of the Teatro Olimpico, Vicenza

Thanks be to Claudio Canova, our promoter in Vicenza, for giving me a swift tour of the city in the time available before sound-check, which luckily included an excellent pasta lunch in the piazza by the Basilica Palladio.

View of Vicenza from the Cathedral up in the hills

Piazza Basilico

Piazza Basilico

Teatro Oimpico

After savouring the sights (and the Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli) of Vicenza, it was back to the soundcheck at the Teatro Comunale, a splendid-looking new theatre. The architect has to be congratulated on the sleek modern aesthetics of the building but it appears not enough thought was given to the acoustic properties of the concert hall. It was one of those places where not only was there a marked 500 millisecond delay audible from the stage but somehow the bass frequencies disappeared somewhere in the ether. But in the end the place filled up with enthusistic and friendly people who seemed to thoroughly enjoy it and so, as a matter of course, so did we. Thanks Vicenza.

Teatro Communale, Vicenza
Bunny explains to Andy about the sound problems

View from the mixing desk

Well, and so it all came to an end, our little tour. After Vicenza it was an epic journey back to the UK, jettisoning people at various stages on the route. Thanks to all who came to see us, thanks to our lovely crew. Looking forward to the next one. Just don't ask me when that might be. Cheerio!