Trains, Planes and Automobiles!

Phew, still recovering from the Hard Rain trip to Madrid and Barcelona a couple of weekends ago. We were only away a couple of nights, but we managed to pack in a fair amount of travelling.

Friday morning started with a drive to Malaga airport to drop off the car, then a train to Malaga central train station to pick up the “AVE” to Madrid. I can honestly recommend to anybody who is travelling around Spain, TAKE THE AVE IF YOU POSSIBLY CAN! It is truly a wonderful experience. None of the airport hassle, legroom that would suit a giraffe, and a bar and restaurant. The fare was only €35 one way, although I think this was because it was booked well in advance. Most of the journey was spent cruising at 300kph and after two and a half hours we slid into Madrid station where we were met by Juan the promoter who whisked us by metro to the hotel. (The traffic was bad so we didn’t bother with the taxi!).

We spent a couple of hours chilling at the hotel before leaving for the sound check at the “Sala Heinekin” in the Plaza Españia. B Movie, (the band we were sharing the gig with) were already sound checking. Their guitarist Paul is an old friend of mine so it was fun to catch up with the old stoat!

Venues like this have changed very little over the years, pervading smell of stale alcohol, graffiti in the dressing rooms, cronkey battered old fridge and WHATS THIS!, a no smoking sign! Of course signs like this at a rock and roll venue are there to be ignored, well in Spain anyway!

The gig was great, and we managed to play the set more or less cock up free, well that’s not strictly true, let’s just say nobody seemed to notice the cock ups! I managed to enjoy myself, leaping around the stage, although I have to admit I don’t climb the P.A anymore or jump on the drum kit due to a dodgy knee and advancing years (and girth!). The audience were fab and it felt to me like a real honour to be playing there.

Needless to say, much beer was consumed thereafter although we were aware that we had a 7 hour drive to Barcelona the next day so we didn’t go totally bananas.

Yes, a 7 hour drive to Barcelona in a transit van. Fortunately we didn’t have to sit on Marshall cabs as seats were provided, but there was a feeling that maybe we were getting a little old for all this! As it turned out, the journey raced by, helped by a very civilised lunch halfway. It’s on journeys like this that you’re reminded just how big Spain is, and how hot. In theory, we visited Zaragoza, but in reality we saw an industrial estate on the outskirts. Oh the glamour of touring!

Anyway, 7 hours later we roll up at the “Sala Salmandra” feeling a little fuzzy around the edges. However, the sound and lights here are great. I should mention that it’s been a while since I’ve done a gig with proper monitors and stage sound, so it’s quite a luxury to hear what I’m singing (if not a bit off-putting!). I’d also like to say , at the risk of sounding pompous, how great the band were. Bruce (the guitarist) was spot on. We’ve known each other since we were teenagers, and don’t think he’d mind me saying that the way we play together isn’t always consistent, so it made the job that Klaus (bass) and Francis(drums) did all the more heroic! So another fab gig was had by all, the only negative incident being my wife Carmen’s bottom being groped while she was watching from the audience, but then again, it’s very gropable! (They’re only human love!). We also had the chance to watch B Movie who were on after us. Rockin!

Naturally much cerveza was imbibed afterwards and we got to sign some old copies of the single “Diamonds” that people had brought along. One guy told me that the original 10″ version of “Diamonds” was worth €500 to 800 on e bay. Unfortunately I don’t have one, but my Mum does, so I maybe paying her a visit soon!

The evening was topped off by an after stage party at another club and I got the feeling that I wished the tour would go on forever. It is SO MUCH FUN! However this was not to be, so to the airport the next afternoon. I used to like flying, but now with the extra security (I still don’t believe guitar strings and gaffer tape are offensive weapons… sweaty socks yes!), and flight delays, not to mention hideous prices for just about anything airside, the fun has definitely been taking out of this particular mode of transport. I sometimes think that the 9/11 disaster was a plot by airport retailers and security staff to milk passengers.

And so, we pick up the car in Malaga and drive home. The weird thing is, although when we were travelling, it felt like we’d been away for a week, within an hour of being back, I felt like I hadn’t been anywhere, it all felt like a dream, a bit like life I guess. (Deep!)

We’ve been invited back to Madrid to play in December, so I’m looking forward to dreaming again! xx

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