Viva Italia Part 2! - March 09

Day 4, 14th March

In Pordenone the tour turned into a family outing. I was due to meet the most outrageous groupie of all time downtown - my mother June. A blonde rock chick in leather jacket surrounded by adoring men was checking herself into the hotel as we arrived. It was ever thus with Mum and her admirers. I took great pleasure in giving her a name check on stage that night at the Deposito Giordani where she was both securely guarded and chaperoned by Nick Clabburn, who graciously accompanied her all the way from the UK. I was thrilled that both Nicks (Beggs and Clabburn) immediately hit it off, having never met before. I think it takes a lot of guts to wear a PVC kilt and plaits in front of a rock audience, never mind tattooing your arms differently each night. Nick, you are a true original. Performance art of the most flamboyant quality!

Nick and June

Nick & June

Again a knockout gig. I couldn't hear myself too well on stage at first so, in time honoured fashion, I turned full up. Nothing is too loud for my mum of course. Grandma was just the same. It must run in the family.

Steve and Vania

Steve & Vania

Vania from Blue Sky, who we all adore, was also there working hard - the sweetest industrial archaeologist you'll ever meet. A girl who is far too good for rock'n roll, if ever there was one. Mario Giommetti of Dusk magazine and Ada his girlfriend were spotted bopping at the hop along with Roger Salem and Maria. Roger is the man who originally coined the term 'zuites', pronounced 'sweets' but with a z, to describe the trade mark whistle-like noises I make with my steel ring whizzing up and down the fretboard. Zuite or zuitemania is all the rage in Zuitzerland, where Roger lives!

Day 5, 15th March

On to the final gig... The march on Rome itself.

There's always something wonderful that starts to happen on approaching Rome. A tangible presence in the air that was always smiling down on me from my first visit all those years back in the early 1970's. At first the terrain changes. The hills and imaginary fanfares (too much time spent watching Charlton Heston and Russell Crowe, I'm afraid) seem to cheer you on. Jo and I were thrilled to be back there. I am a Romaphile! You stand at the gates of the ancient world with one foot in the 21st century contemplating the architectural wonders of history and wish you could actually witness the events of the past, but with an instant escape route to the future knowing that brave Spartacus is already doomed!

Meanwhile I wouldn't have missed this tour for the world. In Rome at the Stazione the crowd sang along with practically every note, just in case I forgot my guitar parts, let alone the lyrics. On Mechanical Bride, Roger and Rob played like vengeful gladiators cheated of their noble birthright. Gary did the impossible on drums and voice - Buddy Rich meets Caruso, all in one bloke. Nick Beggs sounded absolutely terrifying for such a gentle soul. As for me, I couldn't believe my good fortune in amassing such a bunch of sweet natured guys who nonetheless on stage took no prisoners every night.

Steve Hackett Band, Italy

Steve Hackett Band, Italy, March 2009. Photo by Ben Fenner ©

Thank you to everyone who showed up on this tour... Mario, Mino, Claudio, Silvio, Bruno, Marco and all those who made last year's Orvieto event such a success, Attila and Tamas of Djabe for travelling all the way from Hungary, Sergio, Vania, Alberto, Oscar and all at Blue Sky, Brian for all his help and grace under fire, the killer band and crew of Roger, Rob, Gary, Nick, Ben, Richard, Springy, Alan and Stevey B. Thank you to Jo for all her love and support throughout the tour and to Manda for all things instantly webbed!

If I didn't get the opportunity to sign every last CD, album and photo, I certainly tried! If I left anyone out I'll thank you again publicly sometime in the future...

Ciao! Arrivederci... until next time.

Set List for the Italian Tour