As of last night, I didn’t know there was such a thing as factor 50+ sunscreen, but I found some in a shop near the hotel; it is my chief defense against one of today’s three main themes: heat, sweat, and of course, sun. Around 9am, a few of The Winning Team arrived on site in a little town square in Lucca, to a stage with an arced cover. The sun hit us full-beam as we laid carpets, built risers, and began setting up the backline.
Despite stopping to towel away the sweat occasionally, it didn’t take us long to get the stage gear in working order, long ahead of our usual schedule. By the time we checked all the audio lines, the sun was high, and the performance area was almost free of its direct influence. We then had a few hours to kill before soundcheck.
So why arrive when you’re going to get hit by full sun, only to wait around when you’re done? Why not come in a little later, after the sun has done its dirty business and moved on? The simple answer is sound, or as some people like to call it, noise. The making of noise between the hours of 1 and 4pm was disallowed, and so we needed to make sure everything was kosher beforehand. As far as the instruments and audio lines were concerned, we met the target, but the PA system, the larger picture, needed a little more time; when the cutoff cut us off, the overall sound was not yet ready for LC’s proposed 4pm arrival.
Lunch was something you might expect from Italy: zuppa de minstrone, penne with tasty tomato sauce, and orzo with pesto. For the meat-eaters, there were cubes of chicken doing something, and gross-looking mammalian slices in slick pools of godknowswhat.
Around 3.30pm, the grey clouds gathered from the east and heralded themselves with distant thunder. The plastic sheeting came out, the instruments were covered, and we readied in time for a brief, yet almighty downpour. At ten minutes to the clock of four, we wondered if whether it was over, or perhaps we were to be smote once more.
When it looked like we had been spared another round, we reset the stage and continued where we left off before our cut off, and tweaked the PA system to its optimum. I should mention it’s not our full PA; we’ve done the same as we did in Montreux and Rome, using local sound and lights. Be it weather or sound curfews, name your poison, but Leonard’s soundcheck was delayed an hour. He got on deck around 5pm while the air remained stifling and (joyful joys) muggy; it was like being wrapped in a wool blanket soaked in hot syrup.
A few people gathered around the paddock reserved for audience seats when Leonard came on stage to do his soundcheck; he quickly went through a few verses of Tower of Song and picked up his guitar, strummed a bit and wouldn’t you know, the power went out. In the snap of a finger, we had sound and then we didn’t. After a few minutes of interdepartmental discussion, it emerged that the generators failed for one reason or another, and the backup generators weren’t running. One might suggest the backup generator should have been operating, ready to kick in seamlessly as its cousin failed, but who am I to raise my head above the parapet? It wasn’t long before electricity was restored and the band joined Leonard on stage to play Dance Me, followed by The Future, garnering appreciation from the gathered. Leonard thanked them for their attention, and offered Choices and Can’t Forget to end the soundcheck.