Up in time to see Spain win the World Cup, England came second, except there is no second in sport. Although in the Olympics they did a good job of recognising second and third, but then there’s nothing for fourth. The best thing about music is that when you find something you like, it just keeps on giving, there is no second, no competing, and every time you find something you like, it’s a winner. There’s no disappointment for the record you like slightly less, and your mood changes which record you like in that moment. Imagine what it’s like for an athlete who misses out on an Olympic medal by a second. In music, success isn’t the point, it’s just a perk.
So today after the game we were heading down to Portugal’s fourth city and old capital Coimbra for Luna Fest. It only came about because Rohan who had been staying with us had a ticket to see Devo there, then they cancelled, so Rohan decided to go and see them in Edinburgh instead, but he made us aware of the festival. To my great surprise, the last day had The Only Ones playing as well as Gang of Four and Ruts DC, all bands I like and have records by, especially The Only Ones. So we decided we might just go. Rohan had one ticket he wasn’t using, hm. Earlier in the week Katarina and Keith Streng from The Fleshtones came over and he told us he could just guestlist us at the festival as they were playing there, so it was decided, we were going, Rohan could get a refund and Olivia found accom for a night in the city and two train tickets (just one hour and fifteen minutes away from Porto).
We took the superfast train from Campanhã, at one point travelling at 225 km/h. We got talking to a young Dutch couple, Max and Ayunda. Max had seen my Television – Marquee Moon T-shirt and commented, so we were chatting about music until we had to leave the train in Coimbra, they were going to Lisbon. We had been to Braga one night to see a ballet a few months ago, but this was the first time we were going to a city that we would have a chance to actually see – we were planning to see the festival and then spend the next day as tourists. But first, we had to check into our accom. We walked there from the station, it was too hot, but it was nice to be in a new place and we were just taking it in, ignoring the discomfort. The accom was weird as cheaper guest houses around the world always are. A big old wooden door and red-carpeted stairs that wound their way to the landing and a reception desk. We were checked in by a very introverted young man who showed us up another flight of stairs to our odd room. A narrow room with high double doors with two beds, one single, one double, no outside view from the windows, and hot inside. But surprisingly, there was an air conditioner, we put it on and left for the festival.
We discovered a lovely town, quiet on a Sunday, and close to us, the festival was being held across a bridge on the other side of the river. It was lovely and we walked over the bridge, admiring the view of the city behind us as it rose above the river below. At the gate, they were giving away free tickets because Devo had cancelled. We were on the list and went and found Fernando the booker (who we realised we already knew) and were given AAA passes – we were in. It was a lovely location, by the river, a big stage, few people this early. The first band came on, Bruno & the Outrageous Methods of Presentation, very punky, apparently, he’s 17, all the band were in their fifties and sixties. The next band on was Ruts DC, a three-piece, I’m a fan, they played their unique power punk reggae mix (including Babylon’s Burning and In A Rut) – and for that last song who should appear on stage but Captain Sensible. The Damned had also cancelled, but The Captain allegedly lives in Portugal and showed up anyway.
Yummy Fur were next, I’m unfamiliar with them, but next came The Only Ones who I really wanted to see. Peter Perrett’s songs, his lyrics, his voice, what can I say, always great. His son James was playing second guitar to John Perry, who was having some issues. Alan Mair on the bass but a new drummer (whose name I don’t know) as original drummer Mike Kellie has left for the great gig in the sky. At the front of the stage, we met Juancho who plays bass with Robyn Hitchcock (sadly Robyn’s daughter Maisie died in August from cancer, really tragic, condolences). Later Juancho found us to get with Peter Perrett, his wife Zena, son James and James’ wife Gabriela. We had a great talk about the universe and Juancho snapped a pic. I’d jammed with Peter once in a rehearsal studio, great to hang.
Next, we saw Gang of Four, I talked a bit to Jon King. They were great live, I had no idea they were such a great live band. Sara Lee on bass, great, guitarist David Pajo, great, and Hugo Burnham on drums, great, additional vocals by Tess, his daughter, great, and Jon King as a frontman, great. I think you might gather it was great. We stayed beyond the bands, we found Keith and Katarina before they had to leave to catch an early morning flight. We talked, we cruised, we listened, we met Nuno from Lisbon who was selling records, he had me autograph AAE – Touched By Jesus. I bought Portuguese versions of Tom Petty’s Hard Promises (1981), The Pretenders‘ first album (1979), and Suzanne Vega’s Days Of Open Hand (1990), the follow-up to Solitude Standing (1987).
It was thinning out, but we weren’t, because we had to eat festival food, which was actually very good. We left and made our way back to our hotel room on a balmy night. The streets were quiet, and the room was cold. Perfect, good night.