Magnus's Arne Heeres Takes Us On The Road In Portugal

16 September 2016 | 12:17 pm | Arne Heeres (Magnus)

Takeaways: the Portugese care not for time, beer tastings are great, sound guys are very important.

11 June - Day 1

After about 30 hours of flying from Sydney we land in Lisboa - no time to rest, take the metro straight to the city where I hope to make it in time to the music shop to get a guitar. Not quite ready to do the first gig acapella…

12 June - First Show

Off to Coimbra for the first show! Although I play acoustic a lot by myself, this will be the first time solo and live in front of people. No backup of loud drums and groovy bass. No electric guitar, no effects. It’s funny how songs usually start on an acoustic guitar, then get transformed into a different beast with all the other instruments and effects, and for this acoustic tour had to be re-adapted back to a single acoustic guitar.

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After a few hours driving we arrive at our hotel. The bathroom is bigger than our bedroom in Sydney. Rockstar-life. I can get used to this…

Nerves get the better of me and I decide to get a final practice in before the gig. As far as that is possible when you’re conscious about being in a hotel where other people can easily hear you. Off to the Feira. A great setting in a park next to the water. We’ re early, to meet Pedro, who has been organising everything for us. Nothing like a pre-show Sagres, cheese & chouriço with good company!

A fresh wind blows. I’m under a tree in a park in a foreign country. It starts. I try to forget about everything around me, about where I am, about the people that walk by and listen so I can focus on the songs and forget about my nerves. Halfway through I mention I’m from Australia. Moments later someone hands me a free craft beer. This is going well.

June 13 - The people you meet

The best thing about going on tour is the people you meet. Last night, I met a Brazilian who lived in Perth (AU) for a while. I went over to thank him for the beer he gave me. We started talking. About Australia, about Perth, about his love for brewing beer. He invited us to a tour around the brewery. Twist my arm… I was easily persuaded to accept.

15 June - Coincidences

Last minute addition to the tour. Back in Lisboa and playing at the EKA lounge. A funny story precedes this. The night before, without asking us, my girlfriend’s mother arranged for us to meet the son of the baker who sells bread in the little village where my girlfriend’s father lives. The world is small. Turns out this guy (among many other things) is the sound engineer at the place I’ll be playing today.

16 June - The Tourist

Being the tourist. Doing something that would never be possible in Australia as the laws on drinking alcohol are very strict. I prefer the more relaxed attitude you have in Portugal, where you can enjoy a little drink wherever, whenever without the fun police spoiling everything. Hurray for Ginjinha!

17 June - You never know what you’re going to get

Onour way to Beja. The unknown awaits. Will anyone be there? How will the venue be? Would people there enjoy our songs? When we arrive at the Galeria do Desassossego it is empty, well besides the bar manager and the sound guy. Oh well, it is early. They do take good care of you in Portugal though; roast chicken for dinner!

Soundcheck. The space is small and cozy. Great atmosphere. I can imagine there would have been some good parties here.

One thing I learned so far over here is that shows never start on time. Time, really, is an irrelevant concept. It is 22.30 and nobody is here. Both the soundy & the bar manager assure us that people will come. Just not before midnight. Well okay then. No worries.

The phone rings. Some guy who doesn’t like his beer cold and asks if there some ready for him out of the fridge. Where have I landed?

23.30. There are a handful of people. Guess I’ll start.

Midnight. The room fills up.

Two encores later it is close to 1am and I finish up. This was the best audience one could ever hope for! Happy people intently listening & enjoying the music. We stay for a few drinks and chat toeverybody. Time becomes even more irrelevant.

3.30 am - we fall into bed. Lights out, show’ s over for today.

18 June - The Struggle.

Only about 30 minutes from Beja and close to the Spanish border is Vila Nova de Säo Bento. Only 30 minutes, but an entirely different kind of city compared to Beja. It’ s a small town and seems far away from everything. Every gig is different and tonight was a tough one. The setting, in a patio under the starry sky was awesome, but I had to work hard on winning over the audience. I’m not Radiohead, who enjoy their audience to stay quiet while they play. I need them to give energy back so we can all forget about everything except the music.

To make things worse something got stuck in my throat mid-song. Saved by an audience member who gave me his beer. It turned out to be a good night after all - stayed and chatted for a while to the owner of the place about life there, the new rock venue heis opening up in town and his band Horses For Courses.

24 June - Go with the flow.

Eventful is an understatement. It started with us enjoying dinner in the streets of Silves and a hyperactive totally aggressive junkie coming to our table to ask for a cigarette and then flipping out, screaming, breaking things, hitting a dent in a car that was passing before finally being arrested by the police. Ok…

Finish dinner, walk around to the venue, confronted by a larger than life poster with me on it and a group of Dutch people asking ifi  is me who is going to play tonight. They tell me they’re all musicians. I’d better do my best then.

Which wil lbe difficult. Why? My family came over and is sitting stage front & centre. Also a first. Strategy: close my eyes, play my songs & pretend I’m not there. Waiting for the sound guy to arrive. As I said, shows never start on time in Portugal it seems. No microphone stand, so we use a drum cymbal stand to act as one. Have to fix the microphone using stickers of my band. I am Macgyver. Fingers crossed it doesn’t fall down while I’m playing.

The PA buzzes, some guy who says he is Zé de Benfica and “everybody knows him” is trying to pick up my mother while my father sits next to her… this is going really well. (sarcasm alert.)

I wish Giulio (drummer) was here with me. Instead he is in Faro (just arrived today) and only didn’t come over because we didn’t know there was a drum set there for him to use! Show’s over. The Dutchies are enthusiastic. They ask if I have any CDs they can buy. Most certainly definitely positively yes of course.

25 June - “Reunited and it feels so good...”

Finally not alone on stage, so no matter what, I know the two of us will have fun playing music. Ladies & Gentlemen… on the cajón… our very own, the one and only… Giulio Albanese! (Crowd goes mental.) Seriously though. They are pros at Fnac. The sound is great, advertise the show where they can and they’ re a bunch of good people taking good care of you.

25 June - The last show.

Only the second acoustic show with Giulio on the cajon ever. However everything goes smoothly. One thing that most people don’ t know is that the sound guy is the invisible extra band member. Int he sense that, if he doesn’t ‘perform’ with you it can really ruin the show. Today’s guy is amazing. He tastefully adjusts levels in quieter bits, ads effects like reverb and delay where necessary to add another dimension to the music. We run out of songs to play. We were only meant to play for 30 minutes. Close to an hour later we finish up. A great ending to the tour; thanks Portugal! One more week of being a tourist in Lisboa and then it is back home to Sydney where we have to start getting ready for the next tour and our residency at the world famous Cherry Bar!

Magnus are currently on the road nationally until 19 October, with their new single Ghost Town in hand.