To celebrate happy times the promoter of the tour, Mariano Asch, who now guests on the Radio Station Chico Bomba in Buenos Aires https://chicobombaradio.com/ put us together for an interview which covered the tour, wild nights singing on tables and our respective relationships with the German superstars Die Toten Hosen (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_Toten_Hosen)
With extensive translations from Mariano, Spanish speakers will be beguiled and English speakers learning Spanish will be educated.
Here’s the interview:
During the chat TV Smith recommended viewers to listen to the following track by Duncan (From the album “Little Big Head”):
And Duncan’s recommendation was TV’s “Generation Y”:
And so to the ferry across the River Plate and the bus to Montevideo. I’d played here two years earlier with The Boys and had the time of my life. So much so that I wrote a song about it and, in particular, the ClashCityRockers bar where I’d spent most of the time hanging out.
The effect of the song was pretty much to big the place up and everyone was talking about going to this mythical location as if it would be the source of all happiness. “What have I done?”, I thought. “It’s only a bar. Everyone is going to be so let down”.
The gig was in the smallest venue of the tour with a suitably scaled down audience but the reaction was the loudest and most raucous. Tim was not allowed to leave the stage and nor where we.
There was also a first for all of us: an outdoors dressing room! Liz came into the four walled, lit up area, about the size of a normal room. It normally served as the grill area of the bar. “This has got a very high ceiling”, she said looking at the sky. “And it’s got a barbecue!”.
And onto ClashCityRockers for an after show drink. It didn’t take long for Alex to get up on the tables with Tim’s guitar and start taking requests, most of which he could sing and play to the delight of the locals. Everyone took turns to join in and goodness knows how long we were there singing and drinking. All I know is it was 7am when we left.
“How do you do this all the time?” I asked Valentina, wife of Hugo who organised the gig. “We only do it when you come”, she replied smiling.
“This bar is the best place in the whole world, isn’t it?”, said Alex to Tim as we made our way out. “Not far off. But then so was everywhere else”, was the reply which pretty much summed it up.
A truly superb week. New friends made, especially Jose on drums, Tommy and Juan on guitars, Chino the roadie and Mariano to thank for organising it all. Sad farewells made as the rest of the guys headed back to Buenos Aires.
Liz and I stayed on an extra day as I had a date with the minister to receive my “Illustrious Visitor” award. A charming lady as it happened, who made a welcoming speech which I responded to in Spanish without mishap. Then onto a TV station for an interview which, this time, I took the sensible way out and did in English.
As we walked up the steps to the hotel a very sprightly old black guy came down toward us. Dressed in one of those 50’s American jackets James Dean might wear, and a captain’s hat, he was the coolest looking 86 year old you’ll ever see.
“That’s Chuck Berry”, said Liz and by George it was. So, one of the greatest Rock n Roll poets and inventor of the rock lead guitar is in town and I’m the “Illustrious Visitor”?
And so we traveled the blissfully short 3 hour drive from Rosario back to Buenos Aires. You may remember I had left my telephone in Brazil with my iPad charger. Emails back to England had elicited help and FedEx had been engaged to ferry the equipment from Rio to BA. I was looking forward to picking it up in the hotel and for the twitches which come from being estranged from these modern day curses to subside.
“You were expecting a package from FedEx”, said the receptionist. “Yes”, I replied in joy. “The customs have impounded it” he said. “You are #*$¥%}ing joking me”, was my measured response after less sleep in a week than I’m accustomed to enjoying for a Saturday afternoon nap.
It turns out that Argentina’s much admired and completely rational president, Kristina Kirchner, has had a spat with Apple. She demanded they build a factory in her country, they declined, so she banned my particular model of iPhone. I could go to a Customs office in the equivalent of Swansea on Monday, in person and only in person, pay a fine, whereupon my iPhone would be restored to me.
“But I’ll be in Uruguay on Monday and from there I’m traveling back to Brazil and the UK”, was my plaintive cry. All were agreed it was not a promising situation.
At least there was better news from Uruguay. A government minister would be welcoming me to his office on Monday afternoon to present me with a medal as an “Illustrious Visitor” to Montevideo. The only musicians to receive this honour before were Paul MacCartney and Elton John. This was, of course, in recognition for the song “Montevideo” on my cd “Little Big Head”, a song inspired by my last trip to the city which was largely spent in an alcoholic haze of the night time hours in a bar called ClashCityRockers.
So you celebrate getting rat arsed in a city and they give you a medal for it. My kind of town.
“If he’s a government minister tell him to get onto Kirchner and get your phone back”‘ was the solitary response from a geographically challenged, and unimpressed Liz.
And so to the nights show. By now the whole team were running on pure adrenaline and audience reaction to overcome the lack of sleep. Both adrenaline and audience reaction were there in copious quantities.
Tim was in fine form as ever and the Adverts song, “One Chord Wonders”, which we played together as he joined me and the band on stage at the end of my set, particularly went down a storm.
An early night. In bed by 3pm and six, count them, six whole hours of sleep before getting the ferry across the River Plate, a river the width of the English Channel, in the morning.
So, a stupendous if somewhat late night in Tandil. Today a 9 hour haul to the lovely town of Rosario. Now, here’s a fact you might not know: there is one heck of a lot of grass in Argentina. The road from Tandil to Rosario goes straight from south to north through flat terrain of mile after mile of ……………. grass.
Not a lot happened. There was a welcome burst of excitement each time we needed petrol. Especially at one stop where Mariano pulled up at the kiosk to pay. A battered car approached from the other direction which slowed down but didn’t quite stop. The rotund driver opened his door and leapt out, door left swinging as the car hurtled toward us with no one at the wheel and no brake on. Liz leapt onto our car horn and started honking for all her worth. “That’ll stop it”, we thought. The runaway car came to a halt just short of our driver’s door.
Such excitement over we became a little bored. As car passenger backside set in we became so bored, in fact, that we decided to play pub cricket. It’s a childhood game you play on long journeys in England where all pubs have a name. As you pass a pub the person “in” scores “runs” according to the number of legs in the title. E.g. the “Dog and Duck” will score you 6 runs. If the pub name has no legs, e.g. “The Plough”, you are “out”.
There aren’t any pubs in Argentina so we managed to while away quite some time that way on the look out!
Rosario hove into view at 8 pm. Bags dropped at the luxurious Holiday Inn and sound check. We were due to play at 1 am but the audience didn’t start to show up till then. I think you might be starting to get the drift here? So, after 3 hours sleep in 48 we took the stage at 3am.
But that’s when it’s all worth it. Great audience, great show.
Liz, Tim and I left the venue at 5 pm to the cries of incredulous locals. “You are leaving so early?”, they insisted. “Stay a while. There’s plenty of life here yet”. And I bet there was, but after the delights of the Hotel Austral in Tandil the night before, the vast acres of freshly laundered cotton covering our bed in the Rosario Holiday Inn were enticing like a Siren’s song, calling out to tired mariners nearing land after being adrift for eternity on a sea of pampas grass.