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From the U.S.A., and for the first and only time, THE WHAT!
a review of the Spanish/Portuguese shows

written by Ignasi Renom in Barcelona

Barcelona | San Sebastian | Lisbon

Thanks to my friend Marc at Epic Spain I was told that the band would arrive on November 20 at 4 pm. I had to wait to meet the band though till the next morning where we went with Eddie and Lulu from the Fastbacks to Museu Picaso. I did not think I would be nervous but the truth is that I was. It was the same kind of feeling as when I met Springsteen many years ago.

Once we reached Hotel Colon, and being myself a big Who fan, I gave Eddie a copy of The Whoīs Greatest Hits with a different picture sleeve. He then offered to sign my copy of last year's Xmas single and wrote "Gracias, The Who.....Eddie Vedder".

On my way home I started thinking how lucky I had been and went straight to the venue. The show started as you well stated with "Wash" which was a very nice surprise. It felt kinda silly to be among a crowd where everyone pretended to be the bandīs biggest fan. There was no moshing as far as I remember but a lot of shoves. I even fell to the floor, and so did many others. Eddie spoke in fluent Spanish throughout the show being his best translation "Hablando como un niņo de los noventa" during "Habit". "Yellow" closes the show though "Rockin'in the Free World" was on the list.

The next morning me and a couple of friends headed north to San Sebastian. Maybe some of you donīt know this but traveling in Europe is so fucking expensive. I think about it now and I wonder how we made it home later, but thatīs another story.

The venue in San Sebastian, Velodromo de Anoeta is a huge place, and that night was filled with 17,000 people coming from all over Spain, especially from Madrid.

Before they went onstage the Fastbacks played "Girlīs Eyes" but without Eddie and a great cover of an AC/DC song. It sounds to me like "Whole lotta Rosie" but Iīm not sure.

Highlights of the show were Eddie hitting repeatedly his head on his guitar just before "speaking as a child..." and when he threw the mike over the lights and hung from there.

After the show we saw Stone, Jeff, Eddie and Nicole the publicist in a crowded bar dancing to the "Backbeat" soundtrack. Eddie recognized me from the day before and we started chatting for awhile. I asked him if he played on that Hovercraft single, and he said no, the one who plays drums there is no other but Dave Krusen!!!. He also said that I should go see Unwound if I ever get a chance and that the band is considering the release of a live album. Being a Springsteen fan I asked him if he recorded "One Step Up" as a Bad Radio demo, and he said no, that he recorded that song for fun in Chicago in a friendīs studio. After awhile we made our separate ways and I remember Eddie saying "it's gonna be awhile now before we come back to Europe", and I thought to myself...Destination: Lisbon.

Back in Barcelona in the evening I went to bed and got early in the morning. Made my way to the airport and got me a plane ticket for Lisbon. A crazy friend went with me, both without tickets hoping the Heavens above would help us. Once we get there we find out you gotta take a train to Cascais which is a nice and tourist place. We get to the venue as fast as we can but weīre soon disenchanted at the fact that the scalpers are selling tickets for $240 apiece. My friend and I tell each other that we canīt afford it. That if we buy a ticket weīll need a mortgage. But a guy aproach us. He offers a ticket but wants $475. To my surprise he sells that one in front of our weary faces. I keep repeating to myself that everything will work itself out. Times fades away. One hour before the Fastbacks and still ticketless. But yes, my prayers have been heard, and a guy comes up to me with a pair of tickets he is willing to get rid of at $45 each. Money flies out of my pocket like burning coal and we go in.

The road manager at 8:25 pm goes onstage dressed in a suit, cigar in his hand to present the next band. "From the U.S.A., and for the first and only time, THE WHAT!!!!". Having read in Five Horizons what happened in Holland, I knew, I knew that something special was coming. Eddie, Kurt and Mike from the Fastbacks come onstage. All with suits and ties. Eddie sporting a mask; maybe a captain american mask? Throughout the performance they sound, look and move like the early Who. They play "I Can't Explain / The Kids are Alright / My Generation (best version of the song Iīve ever heard). After that one, Eddie brings in a guest: Jeff, who appears with a clown wig, that Eddie introduces as "My brother Billy What". Then they play another Who song whose name escapes me. I know, I know, how a Who fanatic like me canīt remember this. Itīs probably due to the excitement of that moment. It was truly one of the most magic moments I have witnessed in music.

After the What, the Fastbacks come on and they play their usual set. At the end they introduce "A friend from Seattle, Stoney", and Stone joins them for a great "Mankind". After that one, the Fastbacks play the AC/DC song and Mike joins them in the middle of a solo.

The most memorable moment of the Pjam song is with no doubt when Eddie leaps into the crowd from atop the PA during Porch, and when out of some chanting of "Portugal, Portugal" (I thought they were saying Ku Klux Klan, I promise) they build a song. Once I go to the streets I meet 4 fellows from England who tell me Eddieīs been taken to the hospital. (?????)

The next night Iīm alone. My friendīs back in Barcelona. He has to work. But Iīm just a lonely Spaniard in fucking Cascais with fifty dollars in his pocket. I get to admit there is a god when the publicist after I have explained to her that Iīve been trying to follow the band around with my low budget, gives me a ticket. At this point maybe youīre bored with my story so Iīll just say that Eddie joins the Fastbacks dressed in silver as Kim and is introduced by her as "my husband". They all play "Leaving Here", and after that Mike joins the Fastbacks for the AC/DC cover.

Eddie points out during "Not for You" that he never explains the meaning of the songs, but wants to make clear that when he says "not for you" he don't mean the fans. When he plays "Black, red, yellow" he states that that's a new one he thinks nobody will have heard before. And what can I say: "Hunger Strike", "Footsteps", "Yellow", "Rockinī...". Like in a dream, only that the dream came true in Lisbon.

© Ignasi Renom, Barcelona ... written for five horizons