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Bon Jovie in Albania

 

So we flew out to  Albania  to do a few gigs with tribute band Bon Jovie. You could say it was an experience. I'd previously seen some video footage of Tirana the capital and it kinda looked like any other city i've ever been to, however, the part of the city we went to was certainly different from what we were used to. There were a lot of unfinished buildings....like they started building and got bored...or run out of money? A lot of the houses/apartments were painted in bright colours like red, yellow green. There was one apartment building which was green with yellow arrows painted all over it and the paintwork was led by the city mayor himself??? There were no traffic lights, no right of way, cars seemed to do whatever they wanted to do apart from when there were traffic police about and it was common place to see that someone had just parked his car in the middle of a road, blocking it.....and then just walked away to do whatever! Crossing the road was fun....no pedestrian crossings. The best way i found of crossing a road was to pray and then run like the wind...trying to be faster than the approaching car.     :D 

 

On the Friday we arrived there were around 15 power cuts, although i stopped counting after that! It was very frustrating, especially when i was having a shower and ended up in a pitch black, windowless bathroom with shampoo in my hair and eyes! One unlucky band member found himself sitting on the "excrement distributor" (toilet) during one of those power cuts and i must admit we were not very supportive when we heard the immortal words "oh shit!" Despite the threat of bodily harm by cars, constant power cuts, low wages, etc, we found the Albanian people take everything thrown at them with incredible ease.... they are warm, friendly, people who are always up for a laugh....they know how to have a good time....and love their drink and their music. Needless to say we made some good friends over there.

 

 The first night's gig went really well apart from some sound issues. The crowd was singing and joining in with our brand of humour right from the start. We always have fun onstage, even in the middle of a ballad, there's always time to turn your back to the audience, look at your drummer, catch his attention....and with a straight face say something like "dude....do you have to be so ugly?"  AFTER we finished the second night's gig we had some medicinal alcohol, and then the owner decided to do a rock karaoke....our guitarist managed to find himself onstage as a backing vocalist for a female r&b singer. His role of course included some very, very, very, gay, backing dancer moves, while still dressed like Richie Sambora!.....and we have it on camera/video so it will be made available to him at a price. Anyways i don't know if there are licensing laws for bars etc in  Albania  but our cool dude main man at the Tirana Rock seems to keep the party going until he wants to. We had a long day ahead so we left early (  4.30am  !) and they were still going for it!!

 

There are a billion words i could write about our time in  Albania  but i'll always remember this little trip by the moment when even in our "merry" state. we truly grasped the weirdness of our situation. So....picture the scene......we're walking back to the hotel....we're quite "merry" .....there is no street lighting here....its pretty dark.....suddenly with a cry of "shit!" ....one of the keyboard player's legs disappears into a big hole in the pavement.....that is quickly followed by an "oh fuck!" as he loses his balance and ends up on his butt in this hole/puddle thing. So....he gets up ....he is covered in wet stuff....we can smell him.......he smells of excrement......"human turd"......we realise the hole he stepped/fell into was an open sewer!!! A few feet ahead i can see a fire on the pavement......yes....a fire on the pavement!.....not a tiny flame....a fire....on the pavement! picture a scene from the movie "Escape from  New York  ." 

 

Then we finally think and talk about the situation............we recall how we had earlier walked to the rock cafe from our hotel in our stage clothes because the Rock Cafe's dressing room hadn't been built yet! (we got some strange looks)the constant power cuts....the crazy driving.....no street lights....there we were in a former communist country to rock n' roll.....and the keyboard player has fallen in an open sewer and is covered in human excrement.....and we can tell this not only because of the nostril burning stench....but because there is a huge fire burning bright on the pavement a few feet away!! We look at each other and burst out laughing....how unreal a situation is this??? you had to be there.....but i laughed so hard my eyes hurt from crying.....my guitarist laughed so hard he was actually physically sick!! Its impossible to describe just how weird/different from our "normal" some situations were....you just had to be there.....but put it this way....as i lay in my bed at the hotel room on Saturday night....i did something i didn't know was actually possible.....i actually laughed myself to sleep.     :D

 

George.