Under the Moonspell notebook entry #2
After much negotiation, my son finally took upon Morpheus’ offer and I take this golden chance and run to pack up the vinyl pants and the spiked vest into my bag. I spend more time trying to choose between the two books I am reading than to pack the whole damn thing. One book (a kind gift from my friend, the Portuguese writer, José Luis Peixoto), is named Fargo Rock City, a Heavy metal odyssey in rural North Dakota- by Chuck Klosterman( a quite self-explanatory title and a journey through the glories and agonies of Hard Rock and Metal while growing up in the country); the other, a glossier, heavier, non-fiction account of the II World War (Max Hastings’ All Hell let loose), with its twisted human factor and the way governors dealt with ease and cowardice while people died in the streets, in their places, in the most unexpected battlefields. The clock ticks and I postpone the decision until the morning breaks, placing the two volumes side by side together with the small stuff one can not forget for a travel: a book, my chestnut lucky charm given to me by the kindest of brujas, and the ever pathetic small bottles of amenities to cleanse the aging body.
The sleep is as tight as it gets with a two-month baby but I greet the morning with him asleep at our side, the best sight my eyes ever laid upon. Luisinho, our monitor tech, is kind enough to offer us a ride and we all meet in the airport, 3 hours before the flight. For those who do not fly for vacation purposes, an early airport call is essential yet painful. True we all we have, by now our airport rituals to perform and they take time but ease the pain. After the agonizing check-in, that Bruno, our precious tour manager, shortcuts with us having only to show our sleepy face to the heavily made up ground stewardesses; I head with Mike, our drummer and best friend, to a breakfast of cheese and ham croissant (with butter, of course), latté and natural OJ. I can’t never recall if the airport café is named Henry’s or Peter’s. Doesn’t matter, it’s worth the inflated prices of Lisbon airport. It’s named Harrod’s, my wife called me from there the other day.
The plane is next and with Bruno securing us window seats, we get lucky and traveled on a not so full flight that takes us from Lisbon to Stockholm, via Barcelona, where we quick stop for tortilla, tomato/olive oil bruschetta and rolling cigarettes, before arriving to destination. We came a day earlier, thanks to the dictatorial aviation rules, which have cancelled our original flight because the bank took a few more hours to make the transfer money available for the greedy sites where we spend most of our fees on firkin flights. I love the fact that we are a Portuguese band doing what we do, being able to play a lot of good shows abroad, throughout the Summer and the year, but to fly from here, with the gigantic Spain to the East and the Atlantic waves roaring West is not the simplest of tasks.
We spend the night at a really cool Ibis airport hotel where we can finally get some sleep and enjoy the franchised hospitality, underlined by the courteous Swedish service (blonde girls driving the shuttle, blonde girls checking us in, blonde girls bringing us coffee). Thanks to Ibis airport matriarchs, we rest enough for the day after where we will play for the first time at Getaway Rock Festival, in Galve, Sweden, an uneventful 130 clicks from where we slept, through nicely trimmed, postcard worthy forests with the Summer Scandinavian Sun that, unlike the festival, never really gets away.
I have two concerns tonight that I could multiply by many but I won’t. One is that I realized I forget my belt. Upon arrival to the festival site, I am happy to realize there is a small market going on, just on the way to the Red stage, where we are going to play, that “night”. The other concern is that our set fell on the same hour as Venom on the main stage which is something not only disrespectful to the Black Metal originators, but something to be scared off, for more than a good reason.
We walk backstage crossing an Obituary show and looking at the scattered crowd, we fear the worst for tonight. After all Obituary is, on their own terms, a classic band that deserved a more attentive and animated crowd. Our stage is already functioning and a young dudes’ band called Dynazty (hope I got the spelling right) is playing to no more than 30 souls. They could be characters in the Klosterman book. By the way I brought the II World War one and of course wanted to read the other instead.
We theorize about the earliness of the slots but, for safety, I spend the day lowering, hopefully with humor, our expectations. We never know with Sweden and Venom is playing but I score a tremendous bullet belt from a cool tent in the market, and its shiny ammo bling, bling, soothes me. Men do not get so easily rid of futility, contrarily of what we show for.
The time approaches and the bands before us saw their crowds mounting even if modestly. The Melissa Cross warm-ups and an old man’s stretching occupy the mind. Pissing in the toilet proves to be hard, as security demands we take we our shoes off everytime (I know, it’s Swedish Erotica, foot-fetish) so everybody starts to enjoy the nature outside where we get to contemplate the river and the tree line while emptying fluids with our boots on.
We hit the stage and I can listen the unholy chords of Live like an Angel afar. Aires, our bass player, is biting his nails in frustration. He is a big Venom die-hard fan and I am sure that, with all others, he’d love to be there headbanging to Countess Bathory, actually the song Mike played when he “auditioned for us” in early 92, fuckin twenty years ago, he,he.
I ask at least three magic times, “so are there people” just to get the right mindset, but the answer is the same, “they are coming”. Unable to take an unprofessional peep at the front of the stage, I put my gladiators’ helmet and focus on the world to unravel, hoping for the best. When my eyes finally get used to the light, I saw people did come and my pessimism is swept away by hundreds who fled the Venom show or that are there for us and nicely pack the space making the gig counting as the best we had so far in Swedish festivals. Even our agent Olav from King Foo Entertainment is surprised. as he declares our style is virtually dead up in Sweden. The bullet belt had a promising debut and was quite of a lucky charm despite our crews panicking, declaring we will get arrested by airport authorities just by having it in our cargo luggage. They go as far as weighing the belt but what these guys fail to understand is the beauty of such a silvery, aggressive ornament, which I saw the best wearing for years and years. That’s why they are the roadcrew, as Lemmy wisely put it. I have to be the romantic, hopeful voice telling them to take it easy. As we just have seen in the show, things are never as bad as they feel and back home, when I put the belt away in my “live shit drawer” I can’t help of feeling sorry for the fanatic, whose troubled flights stole the belief that a bullet belt could make his way back to Portugal.
Content, we briefly return to Ibis to get the silly 2-hour sleep and the 5 min shower. It kinda falls under my actual routine, all these power napping and the Ibis valkyries make sure that the bread is soft and the coffee hot before they dispatch us to the Stockholm airport in route to Bucharest to get some sleep and play a late slot, before headliners Kreator.
The Crowne Plaza and a single room for each is a godly courtesy after all the airport bureaucracy and crammed scrutiny. Well rested, we head to the festival site, a mere 20-minute drive into the outskirts of Bucharest, in a gorgeous park. It’s the festival first day so things on stage are quite shaky, with noise everywhere and people screaming at each other, some in Portuguese. Chaos sets in and a bag is missing and we go back and forth with it and only in Portugal shall we know the whereabouts of it. It was written.
The show must go on and even with all the commotion, I was still able to pick up the interviews but Moonspell was unable to make it for the meet and greet with the fans, fact we are terribly sorry about but it fell beyond our control as we were getting solutions to still play at night. Hard decisions.
Anyway, the true meet and greet was reserved for the show. In spite of some annoying technical problems, which we jumped on stage to solve with our own hands, very few crowds can deliver a more passionate response to a Moonspell show than the Romanian one. Since our first time here in Timisoara, we have, fortunately, being coming back and watch our fan base growing stronger and more heartfelt.
Since the intro for Axis Mundi, which kicked off the show, all of it was true vampirism, in the sense that there was an unbelievable exchange of energies, peaking at Vampiria, a song that speaks to the very core of Romanian essence, land of Vlad. The moon was red and full, when we left the stage with everyone celebrating the full moon madness, still to the day one the cornerstones of our setlist, a true example of how Moonspell and our fans share something not of this earth, of which we are proud givers and receivers.
Under this atmosphere we could play all night but time was up, already after midnight, to make room for our friends and Thrash legends Kreator, which we were able to meet and talk backstage. Thanks to Mille (Petrozza) we were able to fully enjoy a 1993 Romanian red wine, another gift from Paul and Catalina, which interviewed me at the hotel a few hours before. He fetched some wine glasses from his dressing room and we all cheered to a complicated night, wrapped up with success and proximity, the way a Moonspell night should always end. Later we meet them after show for a quick auf wiedersehen.
In a blink of an eye we are before an absurdly early lobby call at 4am, where the zombies met to be dispatched once again to the hot bowels of Bucharest airport for yet a few more hours of martyrdom at the capricious hands of aviation rules and unfriendly people. We take revenge buying Dracula souvenirs in the free shop. The flight was terrible and the moment we arrive to Lisbon, a crazed Russian girl, insisted with us that the language we were speaking was not Portuguese, couldn’t be. It was her first visit to our country and she might have started with the wrong feet, messing up with the sleep deprived wolves but we could still do our bit, explained her, gently, what we were talking about but she remained unconvinced. What a pain in the fuckin ass. I stopped caring when she left the bus and ran back to the plane in order to get her bag from the cargo area, while security shouted at her, in a not so gentle Portuguese, to stop. It was the last we saw of her; let’s see where her temper fares in our beautiful capitol, with our alien tongue being spoken in every corner.
Wacken is next and they have requested from us a special show in the lines of Sombra, the recreation of our songs with the help of 4 cellos, one percussionist and our female choir, Crystal Mountain Singers, which we all have to see how it will fare with the fans but it’s always exciting to present something out of the box and we hope that some will agree with us.
Of this, yours truly, will account when time is due. Now it’s time to shed the tired rockstar skin and dress my domestic outfit. My baby needs to sleep, needs to be fed, washed and loved, and I will sing him lullabies in Portuguese, our proud language that we still know how to speak dearly despite feeble ears.
Words and pictures by Fernando Ribeiro/Moonspell.
Source: Official Moonspell Facebook Page