Thursday, 3 December 2015

Venezuela

A rare weekend off from touring this weekend so no backstage news today. So I thought I would regale you with tales of yore. 
I mentioned Venezuela in my last blog.

There is, or was, an annual festival in Puerto la Cruz, on the Caribbean coastline.

As it is funded by the local government, who are loaded with cash due to having shed loads of oil in Venezuela, The local governor said he would only fund it if they had the ‘Best Led Zeppelin Tribute in the World’ him being a huge Zep fan and all that.

So we got the call, obvs!

Now, I don’t think it fair to expect one to fly to the other side of the world and perform the next day, I need time to relax and regain my muse.

Oh actually, I just been reminded, At the time I had this Australian girlfriend who was none to bright, I felt obliged to ask if she cared to join me in Venezuela, Fingers crossed she would say no,Which, Heavens be praised she did,!!!!!  I asked why she didn't fancy it? with fake sound of disappointment in my voice. She said it's cos it would be too cold in Eastern Europe, 'Y'know' she said in her dreadfully squeaky voice that used to irritate me so, 'Lithuania, Venezuelia, they're all the same those eastern European countries'

Yes I know,........ what was I thinking?

She also thought that jazz musician Duke Ellington, was the same man that defeated Napoleon at The Battle of Waterloo in 1815. I am not making this up y'know!

Only Simon and our then tour manager Jeff Stewart ( yes, THAT Jeff Stewart) came out with me, the other two followed later.
The drive from the airport to Caracas took a few hours, as on the usual motorway route the bridge had collapsed, so it had to be 'the scenic route'

So we had 5 days before the show in a luxury hotel in the middle of Caracas.

Pool, Pina Coladas. The lot.

We couldn’t go to see too much of the city as we were told not to stray too far as we stand out from the locals and would probably get mugged, and most likely shot to boot.
But we did have a driver to show us around around the town in his big 4x4, Oh, and to fill the tank with fuel in Venezuela? £1. Yes ONE POUND! For a full tank of fuel.

As he was a government official, he didn’t have to stop at red lights, for his, and our, personal safety.

We did get and invite to  a club opposite the hotel called the Honky Tonk.
A bottle of vodka and all the mixes, £3, that’s extortionate when you consider the price of fuel, I was so drunk I was talking to  a lamppost thinking it was Jeff.

But we are here to work, not just meet the locals, it was an hour flight to Puerto la Cruz, where we finally met the promoter and the crew.
Oh yes, and by lucky happenchance, they were holding Miss Venezuela Bikini Competition in that same hotel!
What are the odds of that?

Now the traffic in Venezuela is crazy, no one pays attention to any lane, 3 lanes marked but 5 lanes of traffic.
And it’s mostly stationary with blaring horns. And we were due at the venue in 20 minutes.
I was seriously worried we wouldn’t make it and couldn’t understand what we were waiting for.
Turns out, we were waiting for our police escort, on scrambler motorbikes, rider and machine gun carrying pillion, who would jump of the back of the bike, wave the gun around, and like Moses parting the Red Sea. Our path to the venue opened right up before us.
Bit hairy when they took us the wrong side of the road with traffic heading right at us. The solution was for the bikes to ride straight at the cars in a kinda see who blinks first game. The cars got out the way, thankfully.

Of course, the obligatory photo with the police who got us there, and a swift drink to settle the shattered nerves.


We had armed guards escort us to the stage too, and it was a fantastic gig, Though very dry up there, and my voice suffered a bit with the heat.
But a great crowd. Even the local governor got onstage, with his armed guards, and made some speech about ‘a vote for him is a vote for rock and roll’, and then insisted we play ‘Stairway to Heaven’ again, for the second time, we, of course, duly obliged.


The rest of the guys went back to the hotel after the show, I stayed behind to watch the next artist, who is Venezuela’s number one rock star. Paul Gillman.


We had a great time, certainly a highlight of the bands illustrious career. Big thanks to Paul Gillman and his hospitality. Such an exhilarating place. 
And hopefully one day, we may return.






1 comment:

  1. And heres the proof for all non-believers!! :-)
    https://youtu.be/Kdn0ZsmZciY

    ReplyDelete