Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

notes from a tour..

Posted on December 08, 2004 by jimparedes

Technically, winter begins on December 22, 2004 but already it is bitter cold everywhere. Switzerland is pretty and picturesque, breathtaking even, but one must wear at least four layers of clothing to walk around and see the sites. It seems the only times we are not wearing coats, overcoats, thermals, scarves, sweaters are the times when we are asleep or doing shows. And the shows are wonderful so far.

Danny, Boboy annd I enjoying Geneva.

For the first one, we had an overcapacity crowd in Zurich. Despite the sound system which kept breaking down, the show went quite well. In Geneva, owing to some internal problems with producers and partners, we did not have a full crowd, but still it was a decent sized one. The theater was pretty but rather unorthodox. From a very narrow stage, there was a 30 foot drop to the orchestra seats. If you were seated in orchestra, you had to look up perennially to watch the show risking a stiff neck. From the performers’ end, it was scary to look down on what seemed like an endless abyss. After 35 years of performing, we thought we had seen everything! The lodge and balcony seats were much better though. Again, the people more than compensated for everything by clapping lustily after every song and warming the room much to our delight.

Amsterdam was our next stop where APO joined the rest of the troupe (Nanette Inventor, Geneva Cruz and Angelique Lazo) whom we would be performing with in 4 of the 7 cities in this tour. Despite the very damp weather, the biting cold and the endless traffic, Amsterdam still had its charms. It’s hard to imagine any other society in the world that can surpass the Dutch policy of tolerance and practicality especially on issues like sex and drugs. As many of you know, prostitution is legal (though pimping is not since that is correctly seen as slavery), and soft drugs are sold in cafes. I was a bit shocked to read that years ago, the minister of health approved an ad for primetime TV with showed a young teen couple kissing and masturbating at the same time to inform the youth that one could get orgasm without penetration. It was a bid for the prevention of unwanted pregnancy and the spread of STD.

This society had long ago dealt with some of the questions that the rest of the world are too ashamed to come to terms with. But has this tolerance benefited their society? Studies show that drug related crimes are so low compared to France and other European cities. And so are unwanted pregnancies and STD. Yet, there must be some social drawbacks though I confess I don’t know what they are.

Amsterdam is also a haven for political refugees. Danny and Boboy had breakfast with Pinoy communitsts Joma Sison and Fidel Agcaoili in our hotel. Lydia and I opted to see the van Gogh museum instead with the little time we had left.

Our Amsterdam show was loud and boisterous. The 4 performers brought the house down. Before 2,400+ kababayans, we rocked the place despite the meager lights and sound system provided for us. We were lucky it did not give way though we weren’t sure if we could be heard at the back of the sports complex.

With hardly any sleep, we left early morning the next day to go to Rome for a show that same evening. And with no time to do a sound check, we went straight into the show. Rome is a tricky place for concerts and I can understand why. Pinoys have been fooled so many times by unscrupulous promoters who had promised to deliver this and that artist but have only ended up taking their money and disappearing. We were lucky to get a 70% crowd who sang along with us with every song and clapped with every beat. Kababayans, lonely for the Philippine experience were only too happy to show it with loud singing, waving, boisterous laughter and lusty applause as we showered them with hits and gimmicks. It was a memorable night, to say the least.

Vienna was wonderful and magical. Not only did we have a GREAT show, the people we met and the beauty of the city itself will make it hard to forget. After the well-attended concert, we visited the Schonbrun Palace again and was still awed by the splendor, majesty and sheer extravagance of royal life. Then there were the other sites—the Rathouse, Stephan’s Platz, and others. This is a city that definitely deserves a few more visits in the future.

Me and Dimpz, an occasional visitor in my blog!

We flew into London Monday, November 29 ahead of the troupe to spend a few days sightseeing. We wanted to spend three days of R&R before leaving for Denmark. On the night we arrived, we went to see We Will Rock You!, a West End musical revolving around the music of Queen, and what a show it was. This is a must-see! I give it two thumbs up for its imaginative story and execution. And who doesn’t love Queen music?

Copenhagen was, as the old Danny Kaye song goes, “Wonderful! Wonderful!” We walked through the biting cold and saw the statues of Hans Christian Andersen and the famous Mermaid by the sea. The city was already decked with Christmas décor and so it was quite festive despite its very short days. There must have been not more than 6 to 7 hours of sunlight. But what made Copenhagen very memorable were the people we met, our producers and our audience who showed us how much they appreciated our music. We just really loved our performance there.

APO with the famous Mermaid! Notice that she is so naked while we are all wrapped up.

The next day, we flew back to London for our last concert at Wembley Grand Hall that evening. The tube (subway trains) were being repaired that day and so did not stop at the station most convenient for concertgoers. Sayang. We must have lost a lot of walk-ins! The concert was fun except that we were all under time pressure since Wembley closes the its theaters by 11 sharp. We had to cut a few numbers and speed up on some but it was still OK.

I am now back home sitting on my favorite chair with my computer on the desk as I write this. All in all, it was a great tour but I am really happy to be home. It’s tiring to live out of a suit case and I think Europeans smoke way too much! Also, it’s a relief to stop converting money every time I purchase anything specially since the dollar is so low these days.

Work starts again tomorrow for a Christmas program we are doing the next day. Then more work the following days! Haaay! Can’t wait for the next tour to get away from it all again!

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