Posts Tagged ‘Italy’
Sunday, November 25th, 2012
November 22, 2012: It was a late night last night and an early departure this morning. Pete and John continued their search for ancient demons below Jared’s room, but failed to gain access to their lair. We hung out and talked and drank with some of the local musicians and journalists and music lovers from the area. It’s a very fragmented music scene in Italy, but it’s very passionate. It’s just difficult finding those little pockets of fanatics, but I would have no problem spending a month here, travelling from town to town, searching: so much pleasure to be found in the journey in this country. In the past couple of days I have signed many covers of rare Junkies vinyl, including a mint condition copy of the Hunger Project single….I think we only manufactured about 500 of those and that was thirty years ago. As I said, there are passionate pockets.
We piled in to the van way too early this morning for a drive that was a couple of hours too long. We are all definitely feeling the pain of enjoying a bit too much of Europe after hours. The gig tonight was in the small room at the newly built performing arts center: a nice building but a bit cold and lacking personality. We were told in Rivoli that the tickets for this show were way over-priced and perhaps that is the reason for the small audience tonight. The audience also seemed to be affected by the more formal surroundings and were a little reserved, but we made the best of it and had a decent night on stage. Since it was an “early” show tonight, 8:30pm, plans were made for us to have a late dinner. So at midnight we sat down with the promoter (who treated us like gold) and his wife and a few of his friends at a beautiful little restaurant, tucked away behind the Vicenza’s main square. We were once again wined and dined and didn’t stumble out of the restaurant until 2am: another excellent meal, another night with too few hours sleep.
November 23, 2012: This morning I forced myself to get up a couple of hours before bus call so that I could spend some time wandering around. Vicenza is a very wealthy city, you can see it in the clothes that the locals are wearing, you can see the prosperity in their skin, the young women positively glow. It is also a spectacularly beautiful city with some of the most stunning Renaissance architecture in Italy, with over twenty buildings designed by the Andres Palladio, one of the most influential architects in the history of Western architecture. If you’re lucky enough to be heading to Venice (about 100 miles from here) try and spend a couple of days in Vicenza, you will be happy that you did.
It was a short drive to Rezzato, back toward Milan, a little town on the outskirts of who knows where. There was not much time to explore the new surroundings today and I had little inclination to leave the hotel before soundcheck. The hotel was originally built as a palace by some no-account Venetian count who took a liking to Versailles and wanted his own smaller version in the Italian countryside. Centuries go by and now the building hosts conventioneers and travelling rock bands….so I guess not much has changed when you get right down to it. Ironically, on the day that we stay at the most glamorous hotel on the tour, we play at the crappiest venue: an old movie theater that has seen better days and a dressing room lodged in its basement that was not only disgusting but had the strangest, darkest vibe. Fortunately we had a decent sized audience tonight and they were enthusiastic and engaged from the first chord. They infused us with their energy and we had a great show, an excellent way to end the tour.
This has been a great little jaunt through Portugal and Italy: enthusiastic fans, great food, new places and some excellent music. Tomorrow we make the long trek back to Toronto and start to settle in to the Holiday season. We’ll be back at it in January, unless the world ends on December 21st, so stay tuned and stay safe.
Friday, November 23rd, 2012
We flew from Porto to Milan and sat around at the airport for about an hour while we waited for our van and driver to show up. When he finally arrived he had to immediately take his mandated 45 minute break before we could start out on our two hour journey to Rivoli. So we sat around and waited some more: Italy immediately shrugging her shoulders, cocking her head, as if to say, “slow down, relax, time is measured in centuries not minutes around here.” It’s so good to be back.
Rivoli is a small town in the far North West corner of Italy, in the shadow of the Alps, a few kilometers from Turin. The gig and our accommodations for the past two days are located in a beautiful hundred year old compound that once was this area’s slaughterhouse. True to the period and to the impeccable aesthetic of the average Italian builder, this purely functional compound had a flow, grace and attention to detail that you would be hard pressed to find in North America. The main building, the actual slaughterhouse turned music venue, is a beautifully articulated circular building: it is round for no other reason but for the pleasure of creating a round building, the aesthetic of the art nouveau movement at the turn of the 20th century pushed the builders in that direction and one hundred years later it is still a thing of beauty, a pleasure to look at it, walk around and work in. Our rooms were housed in what was once the ice house, which, we were told, had cellars beneath it which extended five levels below ground (Pete and John spent a lot of energy trying to pry open a hatch in Jared’s room to see if these cellars could be explored, but there seemed to be something on the other side keeping that hatch from prying loose….). Another of the out buildings in the compound was the old livestock barn which has been turned into a restaurant: there aren’t enough stars in the Michelin guidebook to describe how good the food at this place is. Upon our arrival the promoter generously treated us all to a true Italian multi-course meal. The steak, sausage and pork was grilled in the courtyard over wood-coals, the pasta and bread was made on the premises, the desserts were the sort of thing that I will fondly dream of for years and the beer was as fresh as any cask ale that I’ve ever had, unpasteurised, brewed locally, and meant to be drunk within a several mile radius of the brewery, not bottled and carted around the world and drunk from plastic cups. And of course the wine flowed freely, but I was concentrating on the beer. We spent a good three hours sating ourselves…there is a reason that the Romans took so easily to Bacchus…man, I missed this country.
The slaughterhouse was abandoned in the 1970’s and sat empty for a few decades, filling up with pigeon shit, until one man came along with a vision to create a space dedicated to music: the playing of music, the recording of music, an archive for Italian folk music, a place to learn about the countries folk music traditions and a repository for musical instruments from around the world. This vision was supported by the local city council and the result is an educational, cultural and entertainment resource for the community and region. It’s an amazing space with a myriad of rooms, each holding a small treasure trove of musical history. The main performance space has been tweaked and lovingly shaped and it has grown from being a nightmare of hard surfaces and crashing sine waves into a live but tuned room. Jared said that it was one of the nicest sounding rooms that he has ever played in with us, which is saying a lot, considering the many multi-million dollar concert halls that we have played over the years. Needless to say we had a great night of music, the audience was intense and passionate, really and truly listening….man I love this country.