Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Genie is put back in the bottle.

We are now on the road, flying out of the city of Sao Paulo, heading for the Teatro Universitario in Curitiba and I am feeling pretty good considering how little sleep I have had. I feel well and there is a certain contentment on how much has been achieved in these past few weeks, and that I am about to do the final gig. I feel satisfaction at my adaptability, something I didn't realise I could do so well, and I have done a whole range of very enjoyable gigs with two bands. I feel like a touring veteran now so I am not that anxious about what we might find at our next destination.
The Brazilian Neurotics in their 'Tour Bus'.
Left to Right: David Moore, Demente,Thiago Lopes,
 Steve Drewett
That is despite Demente telling me that at a Psychobilly gig at the same venue a few days ago, there was massive trouble because the event was stuffed full of Nazi's. This resulted in was one punk and three Nazi's in hospital with stab wounds. As me and this band Juventude Maldita who are playing tonight are left wing, he hopes there will not be an act of retaliation this evening, either from them or interference from the cops.
I put it out of my mind and watch the beautiful landscape that we are beginning to drive through, full of banana plantations and mountains, I originally thought I would use this opportunity to sleep on this long journey but now I do not want to miss the scenery.

I fall asleep.

It was a lovely day when we started but then as we got higher into the mountains, the mists descended and then we found ourselves in the pouring rain again. This is the fourth gig in a row that has had rain that could potentially reduce the audience numbers. The only good thing about this precipitation is, according to Demente is that the Nazis don't like the rain so don't come out to maim or murder when it is wet. Bless em, they should buy umbrellas and rain hats. Then the darkness fell and we at first struggled to find the venue.

Eventually, we located it, it was below street level and to approach it we needed to descend some steps. I could see there were a lot of punks gathering down there and as I came down to their level, people began to realise who had just arrived. One man breaks out from the crowd, cups his hands over his heart and then kneels down and prostrates himself to simulate kissing my feet.
I am stunned, I have no default position on people doing this, I don't want anyone revering me to this extent, I don't believe in the hierarchy of dominance that keeps people in their place.
This is ridiculous, and as I didn't have the language or experience to defect this sort of reaction, I let it continue but, instead of it re-enforcing any idea of my stature in this country, it blew it away and stripped me of any pretentiousness I may have accumulated on my journey through this land.

I'm just Steve Drewett, playing some songs and very lucky to be able to, that's me, in a nutshell.

Eventually the man gets up and I shower him with many 'muito obrigado's' to help counterbalance his reaction.

Ace designer Lyn Nimtz and Steve Drewett
The next person I lay my eyes on is a woman I was very much hoping would be here, Lyn Nimtz, she created a series of posters for my tour that I believe defined it before I'd played a single note in Brazil. In my opinion, and many others, a very fine piece of design indeed. She is from Brazil but did the design in Portugal where she was working and she sat and watched the excitement of everyone on Sao Paulo and Brasilia building up knowing she could not be a part of it. Being a big Neurotics fan, that must have been difficult. But rumours started getting to me that she was going to try to return to Brazil to catch one of the shows. Then the night before this gig, I see a locational post on Facebook saying she was at Lisbon airport and I then knew, she was on her way.
And here she was, so at last, I could thank her personally and suggest that she could so some work for me in the future. She and her companion in turn gave me a present of a couple of really good Brazilian speciality beers. A photo session then took place to prove what had taken place.

When we get into the hall, we can see that the PA and the onstage equipment were of a very high quality and the stage area was generous too. We had our own dressing room which even had two mirrors with light bulbs all around it like you find in Theatres. There was also beer, water, wine and food put out for us. Great.
We got there just in time for Demente and his band Juventude Maldita to kick off. They play a really good set and before I knew it, it was time for me to take the stage.

So this was it, the final gig in Brazil, the final time on this tour the single stabbing note of  'Wake up' would disturb the air in this country. As I was playing the intro I began to feel sad knowing that everything was drawing to a close.
The other thing was, I had just come back from a different line up of the Neurotics and now I'm back with my original Brazilian crew, the changes in approach are strange and I need to adjust a little before I can click in. However, we only have this gig so I have to adapt fast, also, these guys haven't played with me for a week and we had no refresher rehearsals. So on a wing and a prayer, once again we rock.
The set is good, it is not perfect but it is very enjoyable and we decided early on that we would do the full set, everything we had rehearsed together was going to be played, not so much for the audience but for us. Because it was the last time.

'Oh No' got played, it was originally rehearsed to be played especially for Isabela as it was a favourite of hers. Discarded by me as a minor 'b' side, Isabela's love of it and Thiago proclaiming that it was a 'beautiful song' with many nods and mumbles 'yeah really beautiful song' from the rest of the band, encouraged me to give it a go. And it came out sounding better than it had ever done, and on this night, this final night, we played it brilliantly.
Demente, Thiago, David and myself had become close friends in a very short space of time, and on this final gig it really felt like old friends playing together, the audience lapping it up, our vocals were entwining in a way that suggesting the potential of a longer relationship. Just like the Brasilia Neurotics, we had achieved so much so quickly, this really was like living life in the fast lane.
We roared, we sweated, we played our hearts out, hovered for a dizzying moment or two in the reggae section of 'Living With Unemployment' and I never wanted it to end.
But end it did and when the last chord came to a final 'blam' we disappeared in a puff of smoke, the genie was placed back in the bottle.
We had created great magic together but now we had run out of spells and there was no flying carpet to take us home, we had a six hour journey to do (maybe less at night but still daunting).
No after show party, no end of tour party, no hanging around outside with admirers, it was back in the car and back down the route we had arrived on just a little bit earlier. The sound of the road under the car was a constant rumble which only eased when we stopped for a break or change drivers. It had been going on for so long that Demente described it as an infinite road. I know what he meant, but for us all it was the end of the road tour wise and it couldn't be both.

When I got to my apartment I couldn't go to bed straight away, I had to gather almost all my possessions and put them all back in my bags for I was leaving fairly early in the morning.  So in a stupor, I checked and double checked I hadn't left anything behind, I tried to tidy the apartment up as least a bit, ready to hand back to Isabela.

Finally I got into bed and then I got out of bed, a mere two hours had passed.

I was going to the airport,

I was going home

Job done!

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