Blog: Larry’s South American Sojourn (Spring 2011)

KLM captives and a poorly paw

28th March 2011 | Larry

The soup today was mushroom (sorry Jules, I couldn’t resist :-) courtesy of KLM, who were good enough to feed us for free after the Manchester party missed the only Lima flight out of Amsterdam, thanks to heavy fog at Ringway, oops!

The ever friendly Dutch people at the airport sorted out new flights, overnight hotel, food and a bag of emergency goodies including an XXL white tee that Jimmy proudly wore to dinner with the announcement that ‘spilling the mushroom soup down the front of his only travelling clothes wasn’t worth the risk’. The hotel waiter mockingly referred to us as the ‘KLM captives’ and brought us free beer and knickerbocker glories. Let’s hope we make it to Lima this time.

Andy has a poorly paw and won’t be joining us on this trip (big sigh . . awww!) bless him he has tried everything, he even considered having his plaster-cast removed for the flight and re-instated in Peru, but his doctors weren’t a happy bunch and the threat of deep vein thrombosis is considered too great, even with blood thinning injections. He is, in his own words, “pretty gutted not to be coming”.

Trouble with a capital P

29th March 2011 | Larry

Ahh, Lima lovely Lima, my first time on the continent of South America; flying in over the monumental Andes, you can almost hear the pan pipes. Dinner is courtesy of the Minister of the Exterior whose representatives greet us with warmth, humour, good food and wine.

We are presented with personalised gifts from the Minister, Saul reciprocating by presenting his aides with a lovely commemorative Wills ‘n Kate cushion from Heathrow’s gaudy gift shop, they appreciated the humorous gesture.

The night kicks off traditionally with ‘Pisco Sours’, Peru’s most iconic cocktail. Under normal conditions this is a potent brew but on top of the long flight and jet lag it soon gets me in the mood for talking utter shite at the dinner table :-).

2 oz pisco brandy
1 oz lime juice
1/4 oz simple syrup
1/2 egg white
1 dash Angostura® bitters

A festive Peruvian party

30th March 2011 | Larry

Long soundcheck as we dust off the cobwebs that have gathered since December and try out songs where we feel that Andy will be most missed, Frustration, Bells etc. The gig is a massive car park at the foot of the dustiest mountains we have ever seen, but tonight it promises to be a festive Peruvian party. (Note to self : Stay well away from the Pisco Sours!!)

Good Grief!! . . the set list is done before teatime!!

The setlist is changed, of course, the vibe at 4pm is different by 10pm. By the time we are due onstage, the vibe is right, we take the stage and it all falls into place.

The sound is a little clinical at first, somehow separate, missing the ‘sonic glue’ that holds it all together, but the Peruvian masses lift us. They are enthusiastic, listening, shouting and chanting, their energy pulls it out of us. Higher and higher we go until we hit Sometimes, the Peruvians experience, for the first time, an electric and emotional response from their brethren all singing as one, tears and emotion stream across the faces of the crowd. It’s very moving, but not as moving as Laid which sees the whole crowd move as one.

Tomorrow is a day off, thankfully as I’m a bit drunk now :-).

Explanada del Estadio Monumental, Lima, Perú

30th March 2011 | Larry

Day off, Lima

31st March 2011 | Larry

A hungover day by the pool, setting the world to rights with Saul…

Mojitos, pizza & smokes in Santiago

1st April 2011 | Larry

The leaving of Lima for Chile is a first class affair :-). Our crew, ecstatic at travelling business class, are overjoyed. Nick (drum tech) is so excited he plays endlessly with the electric reclining seat until it freezes in full recline and wont budge!!

The entire cabin crew try to return his seat to something approaching upright, but to no avail. He eats his meal, watches True Grit, and even lands in Chile fully reclined. He always was a bit laid back but this was ridiculous.

Immigration is a mixed affair as the US contingent are charged $120 to get in, whilst the Brits get in free :-). It turns out that the US charges Chileans to enter America, so Chile gets its own back by making them the exception when entering. They call it the ‘reciprocity rule’ but really it’s just two fingers up to the Yanks.

Santiago is a lot more together than Peru, it appears more European and advanced. The hotel is one of those swanky, funky, far-too-clever-for-its-own-good places that looks great but nothing works, you cant find the light switch and when you do, you notice a faint glow from behind a panel that only enhances the gloom. They are usually called ‘Designer’ hotels but believe me they have f*ck all to do with design.

The lobby is on the 4th floor and Saul has already left in disgust to find a ‘sensible’ hotel. I’m meeting Saul, Mark and Dave for dinner, we arrange to meet outside, and for the first time I encounter the maze of lifts in the place; whenever you enter them you can easily find that you have gone through some kind of time/space continuum where you arrive in a shopping mall/underground car park or gift shop. Wandering and lost, I hear Dave’s dulcet tones shouting my name, he’s lost as well!! We confer and compare notes and manage to find the entrance where the others wait patiently, bless em.

A fabulous Mojito and pizza fuelled meal ensues and normality is resumed. A lovely table underneath a canopy of foliage, and a great atmosphere where smokers aren’t banished to the pavement and EVERYONE is happy, chilled and satisfied.

As sweet as it is strange

2nd April 2011 | Larry

Our hard working crew were at the venue till 3am sorting out myriad problems including two hired amps literally blowing up when they plugged them in, and a knackered monitor desk. They are back at the site early to carry on sorting.

As we walk on stage all of us, the crew especially, are unsure if everything will work. Miraculously it all goes without a hitch and the gig is a dream to play. The Chilean crowd are with us all the way, even through the vagaries of Jam J and Stutter (which btw brings the house down), one hour and 15 minutes of pure pleasure culminating in an on stage Laid-fuelled dance party with lots of Chilean fans and friends. Life is as sweet as it is strange.

After the show we chill backstage till early evening then some go back to the hotel and some enjoy the later acts on the bill. Tim dashes off to see Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros straight after coming off stage, he must like them very much as he usually needs to recover from a gig, but I suppose we only played for a fraction of the time we are usually on stage.

Much much later, back at the rooftop bar with amazing views of the city, the private Lollapalooza party is in full swing. The drinks are flowing and our TM Thom turns into ‘Capt. Wobble’ as the Cosmopolitans he was imbibing hit his legs. It’s late now, very late, time for bed and another hungover day chilling by the pool tomorrow, groovy groundhog day.

Lollapalooza Chile, Santiago

2nd April 2011 | Larry

Coffee with legs and the Barrio Bellavista

3rd April 2011 | Larry

Those of us left head out to see Santiago’s sights downtown and while looking for coffee and a money exchange we bump into one of Jules’s friends from Brazil, what are the chances huh?

She too was here for the festival and her Spanish comes in very handy as we try to find a Chilean oddity called café con piernas or ‘coffee with legs’.é_con_piernas

The one we are directed to is NOT one of the more conservative ones we’d heard of, it’s dark and a few patrons are having some very personal attention from the ‘waitresses’ ;-) … it’s not what we are in the mood for this early in the day.  The sun, the Barrio Bellavista and the metropolitan park are calling us – the legs can wait till later, we graciously exit.

The Mercado Central is a fabulous structure ripe with the smells of the seafood for which it is famed. We have a beer in its grand atrium as our waiter explains how the ornate iron structure was made in the huge iron foundries of Birmingham and Glasgow and shipped to Santiago in the 19th century.

We cross the river and the architecture changes dramatically, we are entering the less salubrious Barrio Bellavista with its small streets, cheap clothes stalls, Chinese slot machine emporiums, strip clubs and brightly coloured graffiti covered walls and doors.

The cheap clothes stalls have a strange array of mannequins with bizarre faces and HUGE booties to emphasise the tight jeans that are the fashion here, nearly all the models are presented bum forward.

The street art is of a very high standard and everywhere I point my camera I’m rewarded with one great image after another. Whilst I’m dawdling immersed in photoland Dave finds an interesting doorway that leads to a magic workshop run by the lovely ‘Magic Twins’.

They are friendly, welcoming and show us around their Harry Houdini inspired props and tricks. When they find out who we are their eyes lit up, as they explained that they too had performed at the festival, just before us.

They had watched our show and were as overjoyed to meet us as we were intrigued to meet them. Life is as sweet as it is strange . . yet again!!

The events of the beer and pisco fuelled evening that followed shall stay in the seedy but beautiful Barrio . . . forever ;-)

Chilean Sights I

3rd April 2011 | Larry

Tomorrow we head home

4th April 2011 | Larry

For the last day of our stay we head over to Valparaiso to see how it compares to the European splendour of Santiago.íso

The difference is dramatic, we leave the splendour of the W Hotel in the posh bit of Santiago for a cheap but characterful B&B in the heart of the Templeman area, one of Valparaiso’s many hillside communities. It’s a higgledy piggledy, ramshackle but incredibly colourful community of artists’ studios, great restaurants, funky little bars and even more graffiti than in Santiago’s Barrio Bellavista.

We enjoy a whistle-stop walk around town enjoying the sights, sounds (and smells!!) of this charming place and end the night drinking ‘porno sours’ (a pisco sour variant) in a cool little art bar, tomorrow we head home :-(.

Chilean Sights II

4th April 2011 | Larry

Mad Mannequins

4th April 2011 | Larry

As well as having very exaggerated posteriors, Chilean mannequins’ faces I found somewhat disturbing.

Santiago Street Art

4th April 2011 | Larry

The street art in Santiago and Valpariaso was simply stunning, here is just a small sample of what we saw.

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