The Italian Job

I was going to do a day-by-day of the trip but well, you know how it goes, so here’s the whole lot in one go. The nice thing was we could fly over the day before so that left everything very comfortable on the day of the gig. The flight was delayed by an hour but then somehow they cut the flying time by about 35 minutes. I wonder how they do that? Do they have some sort of turbo-engine for situations like that!!!

We arrived at Milano Malpensa airport. That’s a good 45 minutes out from the hotel so it was close to midnight by the time we got to the hotel. They laid on a coach for us but it was like a 20-seater or thereabouts so we had LOADS of room for everybody. They had some food ready for us at the hotel, which was sweet of them, but after a beer or two I decided to hit the sack to be in good shape for the gig the next day. I always have that – even if we arrive early for the gig or the day before the gig or whatever, I never really fully relax until the show is done. For me everything is pre-gig until the show is done and as I always want to do the best show I can I have the feeling I need to keep myself sharp until the show is done. Actually, to be honest, even after the show is done I don’t really freak out. If it was a good show I’m just quietly happy and then  I start looking forward to the next one.

I decided to go downtown early on the day of the gig and look around a bit, together with Suzanne. At moments like this it’s nice if your partner can travel with you because you can then do a lot of things together. I have been in Milano before but never had much time to look  around. In fact, I discovered that the venue I played at the last time (the Palalido) was close to where the hotel was this time. I remember we were really late getting into town for that gig so we hired a taxi and drove after him (up and down bus lanes – the works!). We literally ran in, tuned up, changed our clothes and hit the stage. It was a good gig but didn’t have any time to think about it beforehand.

We had a chance to see the Duomo this time. Wow, what a building. Incredible. Didn’t go in as there were long queues but will do next time I’m there. Mick had some interview/question & answer session to go to and there was a vintage guitar fair on in the venue so Rudy (bass) decided to check that out. Rob (keyboards) was flying in from Avignon and I don’t know what Jeff (drums) did for the day as I didn’t see him. Time to get another coach to the gig – same size basically but this time there was only three of us on it. Funny!! The gig was promoted by Blue Sky Promotions and they seem to know what they are doing. Backline was all in place when we arrived and both it and the PA/lights were top-notch. The stage was so big that basically we all needed everything in our monitors. It’s a good job everyone has tons of experience under their belts otherwise a venue/situation like that could throw you.

There were quite a few people I know travelling from other parts of Italy to catch the show – as well as flying in from other countries – so luckily enough I had enough time to meet them all before and after the show.

The venue was quite a big one and when they opened the doors the die-hard Mick fans raced up the hall to get pole position for the gig. I’ve always found Italian audiences warm and outgoing and this one was no exception. We started with “In The Dead Of Night” as usual, then “Fed Up With The Blues” and “Late At Night”. To be honest I can’t remember after that what we did. I do remember playing “Stop Breaking Down” (off Exiles) and I really like playing that song now. Mick decided to do “Catfish Blues” as he had just done it on the Hendrix Tribute tour in the US. He turned around to introduce a harmonica player who turned out to be none other than Sugar Blue (who played on “Miss You” with the Stones). He came back on later for a few other numbers. Mick can stretch songs out at the best of times but when you add a few lengthy harmonica solos as well then you can imagine the songs/night went by in no time. Someone said afterwards we played for over two hours, which is quite possible!

The promoter seemed very happy with the show and talked to Mick about doing some more shows in Italy in 2008. Nothing wrong with that, right?

We only had to fly out late on Monday so that meant that we basically had another whole day to spend in Milano. It was nice to take it easy and have some time to stroll around. The weather was fabulous. I don’t know how hot it was but it was certainly warm enough to sit on a terrace in your shirt. That helps to shorten the winter! Suzanne’s parents had flown in for the gig so we met up with them for lunch and then did a spot of shopping together. Dangerous – all those handbags and shoes!!

I thought Mick played really well on this gig and it’s always nice to see him relax into it when he’s on form on stage. I got to do a few of my own songs, which is always nice. I did “Lonely Road” and normally Mick takes the solo on it. Luckily I turned around just before the solo because he was nowhere to be seen. He’d gone off stage about something so I had to turn around and do the solo myself. As I said earlier, this was a nice crowd  and they were kind enough to give me a round of applause for my solo – which is always nice of course. The flight back went without any hitches and so that brought the Italian Job to a close. I’m off to Prague next weekend so I’ll write a report of that when I get back. Mind yourselves!

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