Hot up and dreadful at 12.30. I read ‘Candide’ until four and then slink down to the bus: there is little surprise when minutes into our journey it breaks down. We decide to co-erce some bemused locals into driving us to the venue, and so “Esto love to takee Curee to Mineirinho Olymnasium” coos Billy stupidly in a nearby garage forecourt. To our complete surprise there are no shortage of offers, and we arrive backstage grandly in VW Beetle, A Ford Escort, and a mini! The hall is an immense air-hangar replete with a seven second echo, and a soundcheck is considered hopeless: so Porl skateboards, Lol smokes, Simon talks, and I watch, as Boris tries to maim-a-local with his newly acquired ‘Bolas’. The Pogues are carousing merrily from the PA as the doors open and the stampede starts, and by 9.30 there over 20,000 people crammed inside. We play deliriously once more in over 100 degrees of heat, but the crowd, not surprisingly, begin to fade. Bodies are carried out by the hundred, but the survivors are still chanting madly as we run away.
We have sandwiches, beer and ‘The Deerhunter’ back in Bill’s room, and agree it has been another ‘funny’ day…
As I lay in bed, I wonder why I feel I can hold onto nothing solidly here…
Overca… hot and dreadfully sunny …and much to the chagrin of the ‘Well-oiled-machine’, we decide to travel back to Rio by bus! Upping fast at one we are moving by two, and weaving well into the jungle by three. We stop at Congonhas at four, and are delighted by a hundred miles of jungle from a church in the sun on a mountain top with children and balmy and quiet and very very far away… So we photograph and breathe and regretfully part at six.
There is a growing murmur of hunger which is quietened at seven in the rough charm (?) of the ‘TIA PANGA TIA PANGA’ RESTAURANT(?) where we settle adventurously on chips, mayonnaise and beer…
Then we get shamefully back on the bus at eight, and enter a twilight zone : the jungle is overwhelming – dense and noisy and big – and the journey becomes quite surreal…
I sit murmuring in the back with Simon and Boris, until Lol wakes suddenly sweating, cigaretteless, and very very sour. The bus bounces into Rio with Simon having managed to carpet his entire house from the sale of one very old squashed ‘Major’, and almost at the point of acquiring a day of Tolhurstian servitude for a second. I console him with a quick reminder that we own him anyway, and bed is received at midnight.
To-day we saw Brazil.
A refreshed 12, and after a serene three hour poolside Bizz interview over oranges, off to the ‘Maracanzinho’ (Little Maracana) for a soundcheck. It takes us over an hour to drive the couple of miles there, due to the sub-Italian state of roaduser awareness, and we are rushed to combat another seven second echo. As the audience starts to enter and grow, we go back to the bus for some peace and home on the range, but merely argue hopelessly about the correct words to various old folk songs. So we dress up to thrill, turn out the lights, and run out in front – and are stunned. It is bedlam! The 14,000 howling Brazilians we are faced with use their feet, hands, voices, lighters and heads in a bewildering synchronised welcome that looks like a sea of living fire fish and sounds like a million crickets!
The two hour show is a blur, and I am out on the balcony listening to Suzanne Vega at midnight, wondering if any of it was real. I venture down to the beachfront bar to be convinced, and only turn out the light when the sun smiles…
Saturday 28 march
I get up at two and it is hot and dreadfully dim, I wish it was sunny! My recourse is Montrose on the bus on the way to the soundcheck, despite what anyone else says…
This evening’s performance is to be filmed for Brazilian TV, and so a lengthy camera check ensues, and we feel like we have already played by the time the door are opened at seven.
This evening’s concert is a much more sedate affair onstage, with more attention than usual being paid to matters of word retention and the like, as we are all very aware of being in the pictures. The presence of cameras, however, seems to incite the crowd to bigger and better acts of passion, and the stage is for the first time intermittently invaded by screaming shadows. We are once more whisked away, and again I find myself perched outside my room on a chair in the air. The others gradually appear, and we decide, at last, to club. We hit Ronnie Biggs first but it is too bright and full, we hit the ‘Ssh’ second but it is too dark and empty, we make ‘?’ by three and smile knowingly…
8am proves us night, but somehow, horribly wrong.
The poolside beer at three is more the whole dog’s coat, and we skip with relish to the home of football. To see the 500ft electronic scoreboard flash up ‘BRAZIL WELCOME THE CURE’ as we take our seats in the Directors Box is a moment I will not quickly forget, and it takes me more than a few minutes to adjust to the deafening constant drumming that assails our ears. 65,000 fans only half fill the Maracana stadium this afternoon, but it is still an owe inspiring sight, and the two local first division sides, Voscow and Bangu, put on a suitably classy three goal display. Two events mar on otherwise perfect afternoon: the first is an attack by a notorious 20 stone nutter, called incisively ‘THE KISSER’, whose sole function in life is to plant his glistening fat mouth on any visiting ‘celebrities’. Unfortunately his choice today is Simon and I and, needles to say, after some very abrupt discussion, ‘THE KISSER’ is escorted away. The second is the insisitence, by a weasel-like photographer, to flash his flash right in front of my face. After several polite entreaties, and a couple more typically English, I find myself chasing him across the terraces.
He disappears, and I resume my seat, to chum mania and mirth! We return to the hotel in good spirits, and fill my balcony once more, where we proceed to get totally mortal. The day ends in a club specially hired by Polygram for a party in our honour but all I really remember is a cake. Whit. And everyone wearing pastal. Five comes too soon.
Awake at two. Hot. And dreadful.
Today is a day I decide for a day of book and watching the oscars.
Some go up the Sugarloaf.
I go back to bed, after a very quick look at the sea…
12.30 sees us slipping through the 200 strong throng of hot goodbyes into the twilight coach and away. But true to bus we grind to a halt before one, and not until three means we’re moving again.
I read and sleep and look, ignoring as inhumanly as possible the soft morning of Simon and Porl who have been poisoned in the night by the poisoner…
So it is a strange journey that ends, at 7.15 outside the lbirapuera Gymnasium, Sau Paulo, the venue for the next three nights, and we are less than happy to find the audience streaming in meaning no sound-check.
We wonder about humming and shouting until nine and then we are on. The sound is terrible, like playing in a raging sea, but the crowd don’t seem to mind, and they scream away and any way until we run out at eleven.
We are on the 29th Man-From-UNCLE-special-key-in-the-lift-security floor at the hotel, in rooms once more strewn with flowers, and the confines of the day are beginning to tell. So we go out to Brazil’s only bona-fide Indian Restaurant, the imaginatively named ‘Tai Mahei’, situated in downtown Sau Paulo. And it is glorious! By the fourth pint of lager and the second onion bhajai. we are in another time another place, and everything gradually slips away…
Wake up feeling like it’s Saturday morning in Horley until the curtains go back… and then drifting into Bill’s room for a ‘production meeting’ (ie a well-oiled justification!) and back out and down and along to the sound-check. We play lots of old stuff – ‘Figurehead’, ‘Cold’, ‘Secrets’ – and lots of new. and then dummy up and wait again. We play a very strange set tonight, and I feel I ame not totally onstage – a reaction, I think to the three-nights-in-the-same-place idea.
But once again it all ends happy enough and we flit back to the hotel like sand, where I shower and watch ‘The Handyman’ in action on telly, while various of others retire to ‘The Tavern’ for a bout of ‘London Fog’. Do we take it in turns until four?
It is two when we arrive for our final sound-check in the South this year, and at last we manage to segue comfortably ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ and ‘Copacabana’. It is a good omen, and our preparations for show times are more excitably erratic than is normal.
It is once more a capacity 12,000 crowd, and as we shiver and shake in the few moments before we go on, I smile beamishly, and wish it could always be like this. Like this…
The concert is glorious, our best of the tour, and we are skipping as we get back on the bus. It is only in Brazil that I have ever seen an entire audience dance and sing from the beginning to the end of a show, and I wonder to myself, is there a secret ingredient….?
We change quickly at the hotel, and then whisk to a restaurant, where we are joined in time by the crew and a mere handful or hundred of others. The night dissolves slowly into a very Latin Club Smith, and there is very little division before…
…the 8.30 wake-up trumpet blows. And this is where we pay! A flight at ten takes us to Rio where we wait for eight fun-soaked hours in the airport lounge for a repeatedly delayed Aerolines Argentinas 747 for Madrid. The time is spent inventing names and places, singing quietly of dying, and reluctantly succumbing to the awful solution realised by Simon’s frequent and repeated question of “What do you do on a Friday night no no go on what do you do eh what?” We board the plane staggering, and endure, over the next three hours, the most horrendous flight in aviation history. It is sheer torture, and even the stewards and hostesses drop their complacently grinning veneer.
Saturday 4 april
It is a very pale, very delicate, very sorry bunch that dissipates into the Madrid Transit Area early on Saturday morning, and our kisses goodbye lack a certain force. The others are going home to London, while I am forced on to Paris for press, and my wave is consequently more than bitter as they recede dimly into the gloom. It has been a tiring holiday in the sun, but a good one, and now…
© Melody Maker e Rui Mendes