In the Happy Place
In the Happy Place
You see the schedule and check the flights. The context is quite different. There’s no 2 year hiatus and personal loss to deal with. There’s possible work issues to solve. Lisbon and spanish shows are certain. Barolo is tempting. You don’t want to miss Dublin but flights are uncooperative. You need to ignore the general lack of excitement you feel around and remember now good 2017 was and what it gave you. Your tour partner is ready and willing. Tickets get drawn and spares are taken. Arrangements made and months of work deny any feelings of anticipation.
We set off to Italy for a first night in Novara in a hotel that was grandely luxurious 7 decades ago. The plan for Italy is simple, yet guaranteed: get a convertible and enjoy the scenery, enjoy the most perfect sounding language that our civilization ever came up with and eat and drink and relax. Get to Asti, taste the mid season black truffles. Far from the white ones they said. We say he should have thinly sliced more and more on top of that fresh pasta. We walk the streets and drive to Alba. We walk and walk, and taste and drink. Now close enough to drink Barolo. More good food and next morning we walk some more. Lots of walking is done. Lots of unsuccessful italian speaking as well. Next day, we make a half day drive last as long as possible and the promised pictures are close. The plan is to walk back to the hotel after the show. Only 4.2km or 40 something minutes walking says the machines at Google. Same machines that navigate us closer and closer to the hotel. 300 meters away and we stop for 2 incredible realizations: the smallness of Barolo in the valley below under a perfect blue sky and never ending green silence all around it; the leisurely walk after the show is up a steep steep hill.
We get to the hotel and in 15 minutes we manage to book some wine tasting, find a private car shuttle to and from the show and find the local café next door, where we have the first proper expresso of the trip: due espressi ristretto caldo. Nice 4 word combination that finally gets us the proper stuff for the next 2 days.
Wine tasting is 5 minutes away. Unlike my friend, I know nothing of wines. I only ask that the lady does the presentation in italian just so I can enjoy the sound of it. We have 4 different Barolos. The Reserve apparently ages for 5 years and is the best one. Noticeably. Served with local production hazelnuts. The kind that makes you believe you didn’t actually ever tasted hazelnuts before. Tasting is done. It’s hot as hell and we put the roof down. Only silence and birds and never ending views of vineyards left and right, so it’s the proper moment to blast Can’t Deny Me that SPOILER ALERT (was not played on this tour) and send the video to all the knowing friends.
Some more nice food, some more nice wine. This time, Barolo. Yet again. And then you cannot avoid the start having expectations. Taormina is unbeatable obviously… But there will be again a full moon, and maybe, just maybe…
Time to get to the venue and meet the driver. Young Ivan from Barolo picks us up. He promises there were 20k people in Barolo for Depeche Mode. We agree to be doubtful. From a sticker in the car I find out he has a pitbull, with epilepsy problems. Shows me a picture and I happily see no cut ears or tail. I like Ivan a little more now. He proudly states: “He is all natural”. We pay for the full service and agree to call up to 2:30 for pickup. Not ever past 3:00.
Waiting in the sun, meeting friends and end up separated to move closer to the front a little. They are on the taller side of the bargain and I am not. Still light when Glen plays and lots of talking around. Hard to get into his set. Too much smoking and too much drinking all around and expectations go lower. Nice octogenarian gets her chair ready and sits in her privileged balcony for EV’s set. She last for a few songs only.
When only after 2 or 3 songs a little girl makes a heart sign with her hands and got EV’s eyes to tear up, any father to a daughter, like myself, is seeing himself there.
It’s a nice set, but the full moon is invisible in the square, and there’s a bit too much casual drunkenness around to enjoy the show fully. There’s some singalongs but half committed. There are some mistakes and Porch gets slaughtered right at the peak of the main set. Song of Good Hope does it’s thing on me and takes me to the usual place it does… the memory of the last day on earth of the person that gave birth to me. Not unexpected. Then Falling Slowly and Society and all seems a little too predictable and you repent having listened to the recordings of the first 3 shows. Nasty 50’s ukulele makes its appearance for Should I Stay or Should I Go and it’s fun and loud and upbeat.
It did not beat Taormina. Nor close. You remember expectations are a tricky way to deal with life. It’s earlish, and we haven’t seen anything from Barolo yet and decide to walk the streets. There aren’t many. But at least to the castle. We reach it and there’s music and memory serves you a flash of something you screen shot yesterday about some after party. No energy and still with a little disappointment taste lingering in the mouth, we stay for one drink and check the DJ. You see Ten’s album cover projected, then Mother Love Bone and something starts connecting. Some time goes by. We find and compliment whoever were the only group dancing to Even Flow: turns out 1 russian, 2 italian and 1 lithuanian. We trade past shows memories, we find the full moon, and find someone that takes a blurry group picture under it. Others join for another blurry picture. We get a nice memory out of it while Ivan, our driver remember?, has made some 2, 3 … well maybe 9 unanswered calls to pick us up. Eventually we walk some more through Barolo and Ivan casually finds us and can finally finish his agreed service and take us to the hotel. Hopefully he will come to visit our country soon as promised.
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