Only five hours of sleep because leaving for the two Spanish shows meant getting as much done as possible the night before and that means however much you try to get to bed early when you know you are travelling the next day, it never works, for me anyway. I also can’t seem to leave the house at the designated time the next day, not because I’m dawdling, but because there’s so much to do that I just can’t leave. It’s the packing, it’s clothes, it’s all the musical equipment checks, guitars, stands, leads, picks, capo, strings, tuners, pedal board, plugs, stands, lyric book, the photograph of a miniature alien spacecraft landing on a buttercup, there’s a lot to think about.
Sarah arrived with the car and managed to find a park right outside, result. We got everything loaded, I was last out and we had decided that when we leave, the last thing we would do is turn the water off – so I turned the valve and it was the wrong one and high-pressure water went everywhere – suddenly I had to mop. Eventually, we got on our way with the car bulging. It was a brand-new blue Mitsubishi hybrid and we were soon gliding out of Porto into the countryside and heading towards Spain.
Spain is an hour ahead and we either had to get to León before three or have lunch on the way because that Spanish siesta has everything closed after 3 PM till 7 PM. It was a couple of hours to the border crossing for this trip (our closest border crossing is about 75 minutes away) and we joked with Sarah about how she enjoyed her first trip to Spain after we’d been in the country for about 15 seconds. We stopped at a roadside café between Puebla de Sanabria and Benavente and I finally got to speak Spanish in Spain. Nice place, with nice servers, altogether good and we were soon on our way, me having had fries (nothing else for me to eat) and Olivia the classic Spanish potato omelette in a bocadillo, Sarah had soup and the scariest tomato salad you’ve ever seen. Next stop: León.
The terrain was changing from valleys to rocky outcrops, connecting viaducts and eventually a plateau that led us to our destination. An important city in Spanish history, but I’ll let you discover that for yourself. We were directed to the university area by the robot in the car and Juancho, who was putting the show on, met us there. We’d met him first at The Only Ones‘ show in Coimbra and this chance meeting led to these two gigs. We loaded in and sound-checked with Ganzo and Ricardo, who was doing lights. It was a lovely little modern theatre with plush red seats and a great sound system. We set up and immediately something was crackling in my system. Impossible to trace, intermittent, we thought we’d found it, but it came back later to bite us during the show. There was another issue with the Seagull line that also is hard to fathom, who knows what’s up, which connection it is, it’s hard to signal out (hah geddit, single out?).
The show started, we walked on, guitar crapped out before the first chorus of the first song. We had to start the song again. But suddenly it was all OK – for no reason. The audience was really attentive, we went through the set and although some more technical issues came up, a little bit of improvisation, a sense of humour, no panicking and speaking in Spanish, the gig was a great success with encore and people when leaving afterwards letting me know how much they enjoyed it. So thank you to the people of León.
After the show, Juancho kindly took us to a restaurant for dinner (we were on early) and my body told me to eat, write and go to sleep before I crumble. So here I go.
Music today was the album we listened to when we got up, Led Zep – Houses of the Holy (1973), it seemed like something that would get us going while reminding me of Jimmy Page’s fantastic guitar work.