p a r t 2
an ongoing travelogue
from life on the road
during the motorpsycho
end of summer tour 2000, italy
photos: betty, mery and phillipe
text: leslie aka lighthouse girl
<--Click some of the pics for larger versions
I decided not to chance it up front with the moshpit, although I was so full from dinner that if someone had slammed into me I would have undoubtedly projectile vomited and subsequently found myself with plenty of room. instead, I decided to try it in the back. I get into it best if I am up front and unobstructed by others, especially those who talk incessantly or slam. but it just wasn't possible so far, and unfortunately in the back I felt really disconnected, sure I was out of the line of frenzied pogoing, but there were so many cliques of people just babbling and passing bottles. Claire was really upset and although we danced together for a while she just couldn't deal with all the commotion and eventually disappeared. we stayed together for the first third of the gig or so, Sideway Spiral III setting the dreamy tone, The One Who Went Away including a lusty singalong, Sha-la-la as sugary sweet as a slice of torta al pignoli from the Autogrill, Shakin' All Over deliciously lascivious, The Nerve Tattoo fast 'n furious, Fade to Grey poignant and simple, All Is Loneliness again booming and fierce, Go To California echoing through the valley, Kill Some Day really making me whirl, The Other Fool loose and nimble, and when Bent sang 'Crystal candy, bad tattoos, diet Coke and Disney blues' he stopped to sing 'Happy Birthday to Bård, happy birthday to Bård.' yeah! Betty and Mery drove into town to pick up gelato for the gang, and the next night everyone thanked them; they really appreciated it. turned out they had even put candles on the gelato and took pictures. But back to the gig, such a great set, what a pity about the non-stop socialising scene all around me threatening to drag me back down to Earth on a constant basis. At least I have my hair, which always serves as effective crowd control, so I did carve out a niche for myself, especially when they started into Flick of the Wrist as the first encore, aaaahhh!!! GREAT. Plan #1 rounded it off, by then I didn't care about anyone in my vicinity, I had let go and it felt excellent.
The night was chilly and damp, but not as clammy as Brescia, which is where I am convinced the wicked bronchial infection I now have was born. definitely the result of too little sleep, changing climates, too much smoking and grooving into a lather only to cool off abruptly in soaking clothes. ah well. oh, and the swings at the Festa were not in operation, by the way, nor was the slide: damn! we had such a long drive ahead we did not stick around long. by now, the third gig in Italy, there were familiar friends such as Federica, Theo & crew, and then there was this teenaged chick with lank greasy dark brown hair, in Bologna it was hilarious, I was talking with Morten and she staggered up and started slurring 'we give you party Rimini, you come to our party' and he politely declined but she insisted 'I drive! I drive everybody! we give you party!' hahaha. too funny. and Betty had told me how there is a small group of groupies, all drooling over their guy of choice, the Bent bunch all catting around, 'how could he be with Cecilie, she's not even pretty' whoa, bitchy! listen, we all know that Cecilie is not only gorgeous, she is also a very cool person! I have certainly never seen this groupie phenomenon in Holland or Norway, or anywhere, for that matter. classic. you know you're a rock band when ... during the drive home Claire blasted a bootleg from Oslo in 97 it was excellent, and she announced 'now we can enjoy them without all those motherfuckers TALKING and TALKING!' later I fell asleep with my head on her lap, I was completely zonked out. But of course at home I was awake long enough for tea and dessert.
Oh, and this is great too, a note about the godly 'Autogrill' rest stops in Italy. They rock! everyone would descend on the bar to get coffee and pastries, I would head for the juice case, inevitably someone would grab a canister of Pringles, for the road we would stock up on cookies, choccy or ice cream, shitloads of cigarettes, we would stand around drinking and eating, next to the Autogrill was the petrol station and a shit-shop filled with bizarre and unbelievable kitschy trinkets, I really wish I had gotten the glitter-accented pearly pink bust of Jesus, whoa! The Best, though, was this night after the Perugia gig, Claire and I went to the wc and we were singing along with Aretha to R-E-S-P-E-C-T but when we emerged from the stalls suddenly it turned into a total 80s disco, 'Ring my bell-ell-ell, Ring my bell!' 'Won't you take me to ... Funkytown?!' and 'First I was afraid, I was petrified ... I will survive!' oh my god, we just stood at the entrance to the toilets, under the speakers, dancing and singing at the top of our lungs, when people came up we didn't care, we just kept getting funky.
It was so late when we got home, and we didn't get much sleep, but several of us were already raring to go to THE BEACH. the clouds were gone, the rain had washed away the oppressive angle of the heat, it was clear, sunny and hot out. a few hours of sleep later, we all jumped into the cars and roared off in the direction of Rimini, which is a mere hour east of Bologna. Although I had heard it was a dreadful Blackpool kind of place it was not any worse than any other popular beach town I have ever seen anywhere, streets lined with hotels, bars, souvenir shops, sunburned people clogging the sidewalks, but it certainly wasn't glaringly tacky or anything. we actually went to the beach in a town next to Rimini, San something, I got too much sun I guess and cannot recall the exact name.
We threw our stuff down in the sand and raced to the water. it was so warm! we splashed around and bodysurfed the modest waves rolling toward the shore. we only had 3 beach towels and one bathrobe among us, so we huddled in a mass on the towels trying to dry off and warm up in the waning late afternoon sun. presently, Mery and I realised it was Hi Time for our daily gelato intake so we set off to find the closest gelateria. that proved simple enough, just a stroll across a square with an exquisite fountain. by the time we had all the gelato half were melting and we reached the group with various flavours running down our wrists. I was covered in black cherry, nutella and coconut, yummm! after the gelato frenzy we had to run back into the sea for another swim. the water was so salty, and while I had initially tried to avoid getting the rainbow-coloured bird's nest on my head wet, when a wave crashed into my neck I thought, ehhh fuggit and went under. I mean, what was a little saltwater after all the sweat, beer, smoke and road gunk? encrusted in saltwater residue later though, I agreed that maybe I should have a quick shower. the shower turned out to be a rickety pole with a stream of icy water gushing out! I decided I would prefer to itch later and stink like a beached whale than stay one second longer under that Arctic shower. nothing works up an appetite like hanging out in the sun all day so we were all famished. Sebbi brought some bombolognis to share, basically it's a glorified jelly donut.
Out of cigarettes meant as good a time as any to get up and go find a cafe. Sebbi had to go pick up his friend Antonio from the station so we found a gorgeous canal-side pizzeria and said we'd order for him. the staff was all dashing young men, the one more attentive than the next, we munched grissini and sipped complimentary aperitifs, I got a huge and fantastic salad, Betty specially requested sweet corn for me, bless! then the pizzas, ahh, thin crispy crust, aromatic tomato sauce, and toppings ranging from grilled veggies to rucola, all lovely. Mery and I sipped our birra as the sky turned indigo, the lights sparkled on the surface of the water, loads of people were out and about. hey man it's friday night it's time to r o c k. The drive to the Velvet was hilarious. we drove round and round, it was getting late, eventually we ended up on a strange dark winding country road and voila, pull up to a roadhouse: Velvet! 'Goin' to the Velvet, gonna have a realluh uh good time!' Wow, it was really great, huge inside, partially open-air, big stage, wide floorspace, and i have never seen a club with so much in-house merchandise, damn, there were shirts, jumpers, hats, toothbrushes all with the Velvet logo ... okay I lied about the toothbrushes. ;-)
The opening band, yes, an opening band, how unusual, was nearly finished, apparently they are major MP fans, and hey if they love the motors they can do their thing in their hometown. I cannot remember their name, though. gawd, my brain is really swiss cheese after this tour. well, to quote the film Repo Man, 'the more you drive, the less intelligent you become ...'
Right, well, it was really packed inside, and I was so tired, the combination of hot sun, warm sea, loads of pizza and salad, the week, it all added up and I felt like sitting down on the side. i prayed it would be nice and dreamy psychedelic. things looked promising with a reserved Blueberry Daydream start, a stirring Tai Fun, but then look out Superstooge unleashed! I ended up standing back by the mixer and it was a rock show most of the time from then on out! damn! and quite good, though I did not appreciate it fully due to the high exhaustion factor, I really should have given in to the little voice in my head and found a place to sit on the side, no shame in that. but no, i stayed upright. then when Bent messed up the words to Feel and just started cracking up I got really annoyed. at least the version of Hogwash took me away, far away, and I was into it. that was totally bludgeoning, a full-on sonic pummelling. and finally, I Believe ... they messed around with that one during the soundcheck in Perugia, Bent improvising, singing about compromising scenarios with Pidah and Bård, haha, it really rocked in Rimini. breathless from the Hi Time / Hogwash/ I Believe / Black to Comm finale, I was quite surprised to hear them return with The Golden Core. now I was truly ready to crawl onto a warm rock and curl up like a snake, eyes closed, motionless. much, much later I ended up in Sebbi's trusty Peugot in the back seat next to Betty who was sandwiched in next to Niels. at one point I fell asleep with my head against the window and woke up when we hit a pothole, smash! ouch, I had a goose egg the next day and a ripping headache for a little while. Oh the perils of life on the road ...
How did it get this far, that we were contemplating Milano, the last Italian gig? there was a definite air of melancholy, though we all bravely vowed to have the best time possible and not waste precious time being sad, there would be plenty of time to do that later when we had parted company. Rimini had been a really late night, though, and we all slept until around 14 or so Saturday, and plans had to be made for sleeping and driving. Betty and Mery invited us to stay at their respective homes in Lecco, a lakeside town about 35 km north of Milano, in the shadow of Switzerland. we decided that Niels and I would drive up with Betty in Sebbi's car to her house, Heidi would drive for the first time in Italy in her car with Mery, who we figured was so cheerful that any bad driving would fly right past her. and, since they were all still sleeping so soundly, Sebasstiano would go with Claire and Phillipe straight to the gig, where we would all meet. Ah, the logistics of group travel.
The drive to Betty's took awhile, but soon the scenery was just breathtaking, and when we got to her folks' flat it was dusk. sitting at their kitchen table enjoying penne with aubergine, the view from the window was a huge mountain, beautiful. her parents were curious about the 2 longhaired visitors from Holland, but we couldn't converse with them. just 'ciao' and 'grazie'. soon it was time to go to the gig. we went to Mery's and picked her up, the drive through Milan was hectic, a sprawling crazed city, that one. I didn't catch any 'downtown' area, but I don't think I have to; the impression I got was that it's huge and not particularly lovely and people drive like complete maniacs. finally though we found the Festa, yep, another crazyass combi trade show, carnival, state fair calamity. we had to park in a towering garage, rushed downstairs, ran through the gates, made our way through the crowds, hey it's Saturday night in Milan! let's go mad at the Festa!
We could hear the motors playing, it was a little past half nine, we were freaking! but it was Whip That Ghost which had been played a lot, so actually I wasn't freaking too hard, ha ha. finally we found it, another open air podium, another throng of people conversing way too loudly, but I decided I had to go up as far as possible and stake out a place for myself. everyone else was hanging around the back near Pidah and Stefan, but I knew I had to go. and was I glad I did, because halfway through ... ahhh Flick of the Wrist! that song never fails to move me, and they were sounding so heavy and great, they pulled out Un Chien, waaaaaah, haven't heard that in ages, then all in a row the unrelenting STG, Hey Jane and Nerve Tattoo, right before the end Kill Some Day and The One Who Went Away, and as an encore ... it had been so long since I had heard it for the umpteenth time and actually didn't really like it that much live anymore ... Vortex Surfer, yeaaaah! The crowd goes wild! I go wild!
It was beautiful, and the weather was really weird, too for a while it seemed it would rain but then it just got really breezy. I felt very good that the Italian tour had ended on just the right note, and I must say, during each gig, no matter if a stagediver tried his luck in Perugia only to land on his shins across the barrier or in Brescia when 'the pit' threatened to ruin everything, the motors always looked so happy and satisfied. they were definitely enjoying themselves, and that to me is really brilliant to see. Sebbi said Federica was looking for me so I went with him back up front, she and Theo offered me some grappa from Sardinia, uh oh! gawd, talk about firewater! that stuff should have killed any cold-flu germs that may have been percolating then!! it was positively antiseptic. we hung out for a little bit, they had to drive back southward early so they were getting ready to go camp. I saw Ken and Turbo walking around, being lads, always strolling around pretending they want to pick up chicks, complaining about the lack of interest, telling me I wasn't helping matters by hanging around, smoking their umpteenth cigarettes of the day, they are just so laid back and funny. they said Betty was backstage, and this was of course a term used loosely in Italy, it was a matter of, walk past the stage, go past the bus and there was usually a little wooden hut with a small table of food and drink, but everyone just milled around outside, and there were always loads of screaming people near the bus, wanting photos and autographs and locks of hair.
Claire wanted to take a group photo, but all these people suddenly crowded in, Claire was getting really annoyed but finally just ordered, 'ahh fuck eet, take the fucking peekshoor!' (French accent, that). then things got a little sad because our dear Italian host and hostesses had to say bye to the motors, and so did Claire. the drive home was subdued, we were no longer headed to home base, 'the Real World - Bologna'; instead, for the first time we were splitting up into two houses. back in Lecco, we agreed to find a pub, but nothing was open so we ended up at this weird patisserie, turns out it opens after midnight and stays open til 6 or so, catering to all the discotheque kids, man what a scene, we were getting such dirty looks from all the trendy ravers, it was great. and the foccaccia and cannelloni were delicious. the building was like an industrial laundry, really huge, echoing, rows of baked goods, so strange. we sat out in the gravel courtyard at a safe distance from the machos and bimbos all shooting us the evil eye. then it was time to go to Betty's, where, despite sleeping on the floor in my sleeping bag, I managed to get about 4 hours of REM time.
The next morning in the glorious sunlight we packed the car, a subdued air prevailed. Niels and I were really beginning to lose our minds at the prospect of another long car trip, because while the route seemed straightforward enough (Lecco-Como-Switzerland-Feldkirch) anything could happen. Betty, Niels and I went in her car to Mery's, Seb followed us in his. there we had a warm welcome, Mery's tiny mamma gave us tons of fruit, water, chocolate and biscuits, so nice! We took a bunch of pictures as we moved the gear from Betty's car to Heidi's. Niels dove into the backseat where he assumed a foetal position for the rest of the journey, I decided I had to change my outlook, and instead of thinking thoughts of doom and gloom it was time to become Super Navigating Woman, and instead of missing Italy and the gang I should look forward to the last two gigs, hopefully in clubs somewhat more intimate than the average Festa, and I should appreciate the wonders of nature all around me, something to treasure once back in the flatlands.
And lo and behold, the trip was a breeze. the Swiss countryside was just spectacular, the delicate
waterfalls cascading down the sheer black mountain faces, the lush green pastures, blue lakes, and
hardly any houses, hardly anyone out on the road, it was godly. I blasted the MP ep comp (wistfully
hoping they would still play Wishing Well...), then when we hit Austria and it started raining I put
on Bad Brains - Rock for Light, Jingo de Lunch - Axe to Grind, Beefeater - Plays for Lovers, great
stuff, propelling us on our way, and yes all signs were pointing to Feldkirch, whooooo! The skies
were dark, the air freezing, it was a completely different planet. we pulled into a petrol station
to ask directions to the Pool Bar after seeing a sign informing us we were already in Feldkirch. We
found it and after following the sounds of Bård pingling on the ivories, we arrived in a large
concrete room with exposed pipes in the ceiling and a motley assortment of chairs and sofas on the
perimeter and around the mixing board. the stage was only inches off the ground, and a small frail
silver fence had been placed in front. Gebh came up and greeted us, within moments we had half-liter
bottles of strong Austrian beer, ahhh that hit the spot after the long drive. we kicked back while
they warmed up. And let me just say, I could have left after the soundcheck and felt completely
satisfied ... Mad Sun!! MAD SUN. twice! once where Bent started singing and then trailed off,
then again with all the vocals. just beautiful. cue the curtain falling.