Tales from the Rails – beautiful Italy and Tour Tattoos

I am that person on the bus that everybody’s looking at – the one falling all over the place, accidentally hitting small people over the head with my guitar, dropping things, not having the right change for the ticket machine and not knowing when my stop is. Busses make me feel foreign, be it in Verona, Frankfurt or Cardiff. My shoulders are really sore and weird bruises and scratches are appearing everywhere – temporary tour tattoos. It’s day five (show number six) of the tour tonight and I’m getting into the swing of things and am starting to have a good time now. I’ve finally had a good night’s sleep in a very quiet hotel in Ferrara, Italy, and have had a sunny spring morning of walking around the beautiful, historic walled town (“just like York!”, anglophile Davide of last night’s venue, il Molo, proclaimed). I really do enjoy touring in Italy. I meet so many kind people here and with three visits over the past twelve months, I’m starting to feel at home amongst the tiny coffee cups and cobble stone streets. Last night’s gig was in a lovely, tiny room in the mod themed bar in the middle of Ferrara’s old town.

IMAG0205The first of the five Italy shows was in Verona. After scanning the place and the people, I had a feeling it was going to be a rowdy night and prepared myself for a rough gig of playing all my up-tempo songs peppered with a few covers, but I was wrong. A crowd of lovely girls and boys crowded around the stage as I started play and the gig was super fun. So fun, that it was 2am before I knew it and I only got a couple of hours sleep before walking back through the very beautiful city to catch a train to Milan, where I had an afternoon show at Santeria and an evening gig at a club right at the other end of town. I really do have to try harder to be on time less. I always stress about being late and then find myself hanging around, waiting for sound technicians to arrive or for the promoter to give me the “Ok, go ahead” nod. Santeria is a good place to wait though – if I lived in Milan, I’d be there all the time. The show there was quite good, although it’s a bit weird having to watch people eat while you’re playing – I found it quite hard to not get distracted by the juicy hamburgers and the cake… I may have accidentally slipped the words chocolate and feta cheese into my songs without noticing.

I walked for about half an hour to the nearest metro station. Despite the weight on my shoulders I quite enjoyed finding my way with the sun hanging low. Some corners of Milan look a bit like Berlin and I when I walked passed the university park where kids were hanging out on the grass, drinking beers and laughing, it felt a bit like walking passed a former universe of mine, watching myself hang out with my friends after school in Berlin.
IMAG0158I took the metro to the far south west corner of town, from where I had to take a bus that took me so far into the suburbs of Milan, I started to get that sinking feeling of “where the hell am I?”. Thanks to the very kind passenger on the bus who, with a mix of Spanish, English and Italian, helped me find where I had to go on his phone and told me when to get off the bus, I managed to not get lost.

The buzzer door to opened to reveal a courtyard full of stone statues of goddesses amongst garden tables and chairs. I walked into the venue to find a great stage with everything already set up. The welcome was warm and the wifi worked. I had a room in which I could rest my head, if only for a couple of minutes before sound check. It’s usually always “Indie Electro Pop” and “Red and White Blood Cells” that go down best in Italy and that was definitely the case here – they do not shy away from shouting along to my silly songs, clapping and harmonizing. Once the show was over, it took all of three minutes to turn an acoustic singer songwriter evening into a full on disco – I was still selling CDs and chatting when a DJ-duo took over the stage with their decks and started blasting Taylor Swift and Kesha into the room. The disco ball started spinning and bathed the place in a sort of school-dance light that really threw my back to seventh grade… just with more alcohol and smoke machines. I sat at the bar with a snack and a whiskey taking it all in before I slipped into the back room to sleep. I could hear the heavy thud of the four-to-the-floor bass drum in my room and thought I’d never be able to fall asleep to this, but the second my head hit the pillow I was out and slept until my alarm went off in the morning.

The train has just pulled into Verona, so we’ve come full circle. I’m staying on the train though until Milan, where I need to make one more change to Varese. I’m looking forward to performing at the Twiggy Bar again tonight and to starting a new tour chapter tomorrow with another long day of travelling to Bern, Switzerland. After that, train rides will be shorter for the next four days and I’ll be on new territory.

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