Band Blog

Pisa Cake



Time for a managerial despatch from the band’s first trip to Italy. Once upon a time, in a small town in the Tuscan hills called Borgo A Mozzano, lived a young man named…well…let’s call him Bob. Bob dreamed of making it big in the music biz and, inevitably, left Borgo A Mozzano in the early 1990s to seek fame, fortune and lady friends in London. Fame, and some might say fortune, sadly eluded him for many years but during that time he met another musical dreamer called Jez and joined a band with him. More importantly, he met a lovely lady and decided that, as long as he could get some decent food, he might as well stay in London.

Years passed. By this time, Bob had sensibly stopped joining bands – particularly those with Jez in them – and had become a highly successful sound engineer, working with cool bands such as Sigur Ros, Cooper Temple Clause, Aqualung, and T’Pau. Yet Bob never forgot his home town of Borgo A Mozzano, nestling in its river valley just outside Lucca, and often returned home with his lovely lady to delight the local population with his stories of things being “very loud” in London.

Farrah used Bob to mix their live sound whenever he was available and whenever they could afford him. Which wasn’t very often, to be fair. Yet in the Spring of 2006 – when Italy being in the World Cup Final was a mere pipe dream – Bob wangled Farrah a gig in his home town. On Sunday 10th July. World Cup Final night.And so it came to pass that Farrah arrived on a steamy Saturday night in Borgo A Mozzano to headline the town’s Beer Festival – without Bob. Bob had sensibly decided to stay in London and do the sound for the Chemical Brothers instead…

We arrived at the Beer Festival at midnight to suss it out prior to the show the next day. It was in full swing with a variety of lethal rides and indeed lethal beers on display. There were numerous stalls selling cakes and sweets but also one that was doing displays of hoovering for some unknown reason. The locals were producing a marvellous dish involving a round piece of dough, which then has a kind of tomato paste spread on it, followed by a variety of “toppings” – ham, mushrooms, salami etc – which is then baked in a wood fired oven. If only some bright spark would launch them here, I think they would really take off. Anyway, we checked several of the beers then headed off at breakneck speed to our hotel driven by Stefano, the promoter.

The hotel was deserted as the owners were away ( www.francos.com/villa ) but luckily had aircon as the weather was somewhat “clefty” as they say. The next morning we trooped into the local cafe to be confronted by 2 brioches, a confused man, and little else. Luckily Stefano rescued us and took us for a huge feast at a brilliant restaurant, the Osteria I Macelli – wild boar ragu, mushroom risotto, ravioli with walnuts and copious amounts of red wine. Just what you need before a soundcheck. We were slightly alarmed as thunder started rolling around the hills near the show, but it quickly passed – possibly driven off by the powerful cigar I was smoking.

Suffice it to say that the crew were mildly distracted by the prospect of the World Cup Final which was being projected on a huge screen behind the stage. Soundcheck over, we sampled some more beer and the round baked things – and doughnuts – before the match started. There followed over 2 hours of unbearable tension, shouting, abuse, recriminations and torment, but that’s bands for you. The footie crowd were fine. The whole place went completely barmy when Italy won…and strangely enough the somewhat “refreshed and emotional” crowd paid polite yet only cursory attention to a Farrah show which marked Jez’s first forays into Italian stage announcements, some of which skirted the bounds of a possible international incident. My suggestion that he went on stage in a stripy vest and carrying a baguette fell on deaf ears. Quiet literally, he had his earplugs in.

The set was the usual high energy mix of songs old and new, played for the first time since Seville in May. Wisely refusing Stefano’s suggestion to “come into Lucca and drink all night” we emerged the next day for another fantastic lunch, followed by a fascinating tour of the area led by Bob’s Dad, the local doctor. In the Second World War the whole valley was heavily fortified by the Germans who built a network of tunnels and gunposts in the mountains, so we spent a couple of sweaty hours dodging cobwebs and looking at rusting hand grenades with the marvellous “Father Of Bob” ( (c) Stefano ) who then took pity on us – being a doctor – by prescribing beer back at his place.

We were driven back to Pisa airport last night by the lovely ( yet possibly slightly hungover ) Freddy in time for a final slice of the round baked dough things before catching the plane back to Gatwick. Due to some kind of terrible mix-up with the booking I was upgraded to Club Class ( beef stew, warm roll, bottle of red, vanilla cheescake, stilton, since you ask – and a lot of mince ) and we all got home in the early hours.

So thanks to our friend Bob, to his Dad, to Stefano and Freddy for a wonderful 2 days. If you are ever in Tuscany, go to Borgo A Mozzano. It’s great.

Will, The Manager. Capo Di Tutti Capi