domingo, 13 de julio de 2008

San Fermín update

It has been a long week of San Fermín festivities, replete with barbecues, bull runs (I don't participate in those!) fireworks, out-of-town visitors and plenty of activity. I am pretty much San Fermín-ed out at this point, and I'm not even one of the more hardcore festival participants. I mean, nine days of festival is a lot, and I must admit I prefer the silence and peace of the Camino or the nearby mountains to the raucous noise and frenetic activity of the Sanfermines.

Still, it's been fun. One of the big bonuses was that the celebration started on a Sunday this year, and so there was only one weekend that fell during the festival. This meant that the floods of people that come in from other places in Spain and southern France didn't start arriving until a couple of days ago because they had to work, and this meant that there were a lot fewer people in town for the first five days of the Sanfermines. Everything was so much more low-key and relaxed, and there was much more of a family atmosphere to the festivities.

Life-long rock 'n' roller that I am, there were two other high points to the week: the first was a concert by a group of Beatles imitators called The Cavern Beatles from Liverpool. I normally don't go in for cover bands, but my friend Mike and I headed over to the Plaza del Castillo on Wednesday night to see them, and they were great! Authentic clothes and guitars, and they were musically perfect. "John" and "Paul" had Lennon and McCartney's vocals and harmonies spot on: the real Paul McCartney has an extraordinary vocal range and I couldn't believe the way this "Paul" was able to nail the screamers like "Long Tall Sally" and "I'm Down" with such precision. Likewise, "John" pulled off Lennon's throaty rasp on "Twist and Shout" marvellously, and really looked like a young John Lennon. "George" also did a fantastic job singing Harrison's songs, and he Harrison's guitar style down cold with all the right guitar licks in all the right places. "Ringo" didn't really resemble Starr physically, but as a drummer he was tight, played with enormous energy, and executed Starr's distinctive drum fills perfectly. He did a particularly fine job on "Ticket To Ride"; I'd love to hear him do "Rain" someday. They were a really professional ensemble and, although it was free, I'd have happily paid to see them. If you ever get the chance to catch them, do so. "A splendid time is guaranteed for all" and all that ...

For the real deal, last night I went back to the Plaza del Castillo to see Chuck Berry. I had seen him once before, a lo-o-ong time ago at the now-defunct Old Chicago amusement park when I was 15 years old. I even managed to get myself nearly thrown out of the amusement park by security for sneaking backstage after the show to try and meet him; I got backstage, but I didn't meet him! It seems incredible that he's still out there doing it. He even mangaed a bit of the old "duck walk" during Johnny B. Goode. The show was brief by comparison with The Cavern Beatles (45 minutes), but hey, the man is 81!

And there's still two more days to go ...

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