Mike’s Uilleann pipes…
Any show day in Naples is eventful and today was no exception. Southern Italy is truly beautiful, but this land is also terribly burdened by economic and social problems. Due to a rather typical Neapolitan political situation, our planned travel after show had to be modified.
The Rome sunshine warmed me and my breakfast tray once more and basking is such luxury, there was no chance of me leaving the hotel until the planned departure time. Our first point of call was the main railway station for a trip on a magnificent Trenitalia locomotive. At speeds of just under 300 kmph, we charged down to Naples as quickly as it is logistically possible. There is no doubt, Naples is a mad city. As chaotic as any on the globe, yet full of character and passion, often far too much. The scrum which heralded our escape from the station in Bernie’s cars took us in amongst thousands of bashed and dented cars all scrambling for an advantage in a slow moving jam. I noted yesterday that cars in Rome were ALL dented in some way but here in Naples, it’s more exaggerated with most of the larger bodywork dents clearly being hand-bashed out. Naples has suffered since the 1990’s from a waste management crisis which we noticed still lingers today despite recently convicted criminal, Silvio Berlusconi’s declaration a few years ago that the situation was now resolved. The sun was blazing and the weather threatened as dark clouds loomed to the North East but as it turned out, there was no rain at the venue.
The venue. Not the scheduled venue as it happens. In yet another Neapolitan drama, Italian promoters are switching venues in protest at a situation which I believe occurred after a recent Springsteen show. Someone in ‘high’ office has decreed that the Piazza Plebiscito is a public place and Neapolitans should be allowed to enter free of charge. As you can imagine, that is unsustainable for any touring act, let alone promoters. Our venue was switched to the Arena Flegrea, a familiar setting which we visited in 2005. Had I read my diary entry I would have been reminded of a particular trait of this venue. The audience is so far back from the stage that there is little or no feedback for the band. They were a fantastic crowd, we just couldn’t hear them. It feels like you’re playing to an empty hall. Very strange and quite a shock as we had forgotten about it. Nonetheless, the show was great although our woes with some of the in-ear devices continued. In-ear technology is fantastic but our recent batch of moulds have shown to be seriously defective. We’ve blown more drivers on this tour than on all previous tours put together. Richard had to return to generic devices akin to ear buds, as his final ‘spare’ set blew last night. Very rarely, earpiece drivers do give up the ghost but there’s clearly some sort of manufacturing flaw with these. The suppliers have been anything but helpful regarding a diagnosis. I sense a return to the US based Sensaphonics systems in future.
After-show we prepared ourselves for a change in the travel itinerary. Because of recent Napoli business airport shenanigans, our planned flight out of Naples to sicily was terminated meaning we had to drive to Rome airport where our plane had been relocated. Just over 2 hours later, Bernie and team had covered nearly 250 kilometers on what must be said were excellent roads and arrived bleary-eyed and boarded the plane for the 1 hour hop. Getting through the terminal was comedic as randomly our bags were searched by an over-manned, over zealous, possibly bored security team and various bottles of water were removed. We walked through the deserted terminal to a gate where a bus waited to take us another 2 or 3 kilometers to our plane which couldn’t have been parked further away. It was Liz’s final flight with us and we said our farewell’s as we deplaned. We’ll miss you Lizzy.
Gunther met us at Catania airport and drove us the 45 minutes up the coast between Mount Etna and the Mediterranean sea to the beautiful town of Taormina. At 4:30am we finally arrived.