Italy part 2 - Ramparts, rainbows and ravioli - August 10
Savona soundcheck - The rain cleared just in time!
Photo © Roger Salem
Entering the fortress, Savona
Rainbow over Mino, Angela and Maurizio, Savona
Steve, Amanda and Nick, Todi gig
Roger, Todi gig
Steve and Thys Van Leer
Overlooking the sea close to its cousin Genoa where we played last year is Savona, a stalwart and stronghold of Italian support for the diverse music and band line-ups I've aimed at them over the years.
This time the Savona gig was in a fortress that formerly served as a Medieval prison with a forbidding entrance into its depths that looked like Nazi headquarters from one of many screen dramas. Despite the covered stage the weather was initially against us, with a mini deluge and squall from the sea. Luckily, just as we were about to call off soundcheck, the rain died down, a rainbow appeared across the sky and heavenly sunshine appeared for our outdoor show. Touring is like this. It used to freak me out in my younger days, but you learn to roll with the punches, consult the goat entrails, do a sun dance, appease local gods and invariably apparent obstacles evaporate like mountains turned to clouds. We had a great audience and all was well...
And so the tour rolled on to the beautiful old Italian town of Todi, high on a hilltop in Umbria. Picturesque Todi boasts a town square which would perfectly accommodate any colourful pageant Cecil B. De Mille might care to film. I thought the steps to the dressing room alone looked like a dead ringer for the sword fight at the finale of Errol Flynn's Robin Hood. After a night of rain with no roof on the stage there was again a possibility of a cancelled show or else an acoustic gig in the nearby theatre. Luckily the locals all pulled together and managed to erect a roof for the stage and once again there was fantastic sunshine. Todi's head might be in the clouds but it does also attract the sun... with a killer gig thrown in.
The last time I performed in Todi I met Lindsay Kemp who lives there permanently. Affable and self effacing, Lindsay was a big influence on Bowie as I recall. I can see why he lives there - it's like a miniature Verona or Florence, easy to imagine as a backdrop for a Romeo and Juliet production.
We also managed to fit in a brief morning visit to neighbouring Perugia, courtesy of kind Italian friends. It's an amazing town with underground Medieval streets and Etruscan tombs as well as a wealth of historic buildings and exquisite frescoes. As with the rest of Italy, there's so much there. You just have to keep coming back, not just for the architecture and scenery but also for all the friends you've made and are yet to make, as well as the fantastic cuisine.
There was only one more aria to sing as we zoomed off to Trieste - a real jewel of a place, beloved of James Joyce. I first started visiting Trieste in the early 70s with Genesis. The place has a look unlike any other Italian town - a majestic seaport often overshadowed by its more well known neighbour Venice! It has a character of its own with a Hapsburg influence expressed in its majestic old buildings.
It was a fitting end of the tour with a giant crowd amassed for the local festival in an impressive piazza facing the sea and surrounded by floodlit buildings. I got to break bread with Thys Van Leer of Focus who stayed around for our show. I told him I'd recorded one of Focus' pieces released in Japan. Do you remember that haunting and evocative melody Jan Ackermann played so well on moving waves called Tommy? When I was in Genesis, in our early days we often played the same circuit as Focus. They were and still are a formidable combination.
A very big thank you to our hosts Blue Sky - Sergio, Alberto, and sweet effervescent Vania along with all the local promoters and listeners that made the effort worthwhile... Not forgetting our indomitable crew of Richard Buckland, Dave Cobby, Tigger Matthews, Ben Fenner, plus the dream band of Roger King, Amanda Lehmann, Nick Beggs, Rob Townsend and Gary O'Toole. Special thanks also to tour manager Brian Coles and to my hardworking darling JoJo (Jo Lehmann).
Gig in the piazza, Trieste
Balcony with a view, Todi
Christian, Marco, Silvio, Nick C, Steve, Amanda and Claudio, Todi
Steve on the pier, Trieste
Celebrating in Todi
Ada, Mario, Nick, Vania, Sergio and Steve, Trieste