Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Et tu, Harry? The Incas in the Eternal City

September to October 2011 was an incredible month for the Inca Babies, with gigs in Amsterdam (Sept 17) and Warsaw (Oct 1) quickly followed by two dates in Italy: Rome, then Milan (Oct 7, 8).

Flying into Rome we bunked up in what seemed to be a workers’ flat close to the centre – ie one big room, three beds. It was on a big main road and walkable to the Colosseum, which is always a selling point in my book. Our hosts supplied us with a curious goody bag of supplies: fizzy drinks, chocolate buns, a family pack of crisps. Strangely, they'd forgotten the crate of beer and bottle of Jack Daniels each that we normally specify. And the iron. 

Harry strikes his Caesar pose
The Friday was a day off until the soundcheck, so we checked as much Roman history as we could: The Forum, Trajan’s Column, Bread and Circuses, the Colosseum. Then we switched to modern history: the Wedding Cake, La Dolce Vita, St Peter's Square... we beat those streets until we were knackered, winding up in a pizzeria near our flat supping a few Peronis.

We came back to the flat to find we’d been locked out by the Polish guy who’d been staying there for several months, so after we eventually knocked him up we warned him we’d be back even later the following night and there would be serious repercussions if he did the same thing. Just to make sure he got the message I repeated it the next day, complete with fingers slicing across throats and gruesome noises. International language, you know.

Eventually back in our bunks Rob inspected the punishment meted out to his sticks during the course of battering away for the Inca Babies and Goldblade.. he doesn’t chuck them into the crowd every night… at least not till they’re a bit more worn down than these pencils…

The gig in Rome was in a club on the outskirts of the city called Club Closer. It started really late because everyone goes home after work for their tea and they get home really late because there’s so much traffic. Tea takes about two hours, then everyone sits round for a bit before heading out somewhere, which takes ages because there’s so much traffic. So no one really expects anything to get going until about one o’clock, so a gig in Rome will finish pretty late. I think in the end we got back home about three, but of course we had to be up early the next day for the six hour trip to Milan.

This show was quite well attended because the first act was a guy who’d been quite popular in the 1980s and who was now finding his way back onto the live circuit. PAOLO TABALLIONE he was called and he’d called some old pals to be sidemen for his acoustic set. Nice guys all, the set was half in English, half in Italian and went down well enough, though I’d have to admit I wasn’t familiar with his material.
The second band THE BEATBREAKERS were a ‘nuova band milanese’ which is always going to be a tough fit in Rome, but they gave it their best shot and took the stage with attitude, apart from the lead singer (Sebastian, I think his name was) who appeared to have been on the wrong end of a bottle of Jack Daniels beforehand and who delivered most of his vocals lying on the stage writhing and screaming. 

While showtime is the moment to show people what you’ve got, it didn’t seem to impress the Roman crowd a great deal, and when he chucked his shoe into the audience I feared for his safety. Amazingly, after a couple of songs without it, someone threw it back. We gave each other knowing looks because had he done that in Manchester he might not have seen that shoe again, at least until he’d had it removed from where the sun never seems to shine.

Sadly I can’t find any mention of The Beatbreakers on the web to list details of the band but we found ourselves sharing a van with them on the trip to Milan the following day (left, dropping Sebastian off on the outskirts of Milan: he's on the right with the long hair and green velvet jacket).

 It turns out that the guitarist was an AC Milan fan and the drummer and bass player were Inter fans, so there was a fierce inter-band footballing rivalry not unlike that within the Inca Babies, where the all-important rhythm section are Blue while the singer is Red. 

So we laughed about that, especially about the likely chances of a 6-1 demolition of Manchester United by the Blues which did in fact happen a few weeks later. At Old Trafford as well. United’s worst defeat since 1930, I read.

Anyway, six hours in a van on a motorway with anyone tests your nerves but these guys were great to travel with, and took care of us on the road. They had a driver who did Milan to Rome return in two days and out in a lot of hours making these gigs work. They pulled off at service stations so we could get food and shared their water, that kind of thing. Respect due, boys. Thanks.

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