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MILANO - Life is good and the girls are gorgeous

by Jacqueline

...Life is good and
the girls are gorgeous...
("These streets", Paolo Nutini)

Guys and dolls, my reivew of my trip fantstic. I apologise it is so god damn long, but I wanted to miss nothing out, please dont print it or we'll lose a rainforest. If you can be bothered reading it all, go and make a cup of tea, and get a week off work.

Tuesday 5th
I arrive at my hotel in Milano at 1am, check in to hotel and sleep soundly till 9am. I awake to realise I have forgotten my toothbrush. As I entered the local pharmacy to purchase a new one, the radio was playing Last Request. I smiled to myself, thinking it was a good sign. Text Yummy Mummy to update her on my arrival and share general excitement and last minute age defying tips.

The tempo was troppo caldo, so I had to change into summer top and shades, I got a free diet coke at the train station and headed off for a day of sightseeing! Started at the Duomo which is breathtaking to say the least, then took a wander round the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele to people watch. Milano women are ridiculously stylish and fabulously slim. I got over how much I look like an Elephant next to these gorgeous beings and took a bus tour to see the rest of the city. Dined alone in the evening at a local restaurant where the waiter was friendly and the chef shaped my pizza into a love heart. Italian men are so smooth! The only downside to my day was having learned to speak some basic Italian, I had not trained my ear to understand real Italians speaking to me, which resulted in me saying Non parli l’italiano, a lot!

Wednesday 6th (Gig day)
Got my glad rags on and checked what I needed for the day; camera, tick. Cash, tick. Map, tick. CD cover, tshirt, programme photos, for Paolo to sign, tick, Saltire flag, tick, Gig ticket confirmation……….. aaarrggghhh, guess what I forgot!!!! Thankfully the hotel had internet access and a printer so that I could reprint the email confirmation. Unfortunately it cost me another cinque Euros for the pleasure!!

Headed to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele to people watch while I ate a light lunch; spaghetti a basilico, used a spoon and everything, I’m telling you I am an Italian goddess trapped inside the vessel of pastie Glaswegian!! Cynthia text to say she was at the venue. I started to panic, what if I missed Paolo because I was feeding my face?!?!?

3pm – Arrive at the venue to find no one there. Again I panic, why can’t I find the back entrance, where are all the fans!? I text Cynthia and it turns out she has been forced to go sight seeing for a few hours. I introduce myself to another girl I spot hovering, Chiara who has travelled from somewhere near Venice (I forget exactly where) for the gig. We scout about for back entrance and settle on an alley which clearly appears to be the only way in and out. Not long till a people carrier turns up and guess who steps out!
My prayers have been answered! In my best Italian accent I say “Ah Paolo”, and he say alright, how are you doing? I give up quickly, giggling and explain that I was going to pretend to be an Italian fan, and pretend that I thought he was actually from The Fratellis (another Glasgow band with Italian name) which he laughs about!! I introduce him to Chiara forgetting to tell him my own name, duh, and shake his hand as I say how pleased I am to finally meet him. We have a laugh about me having to travel so far to Milan to meet him, even though I live so nearby at home, and that my boyfriend would have never let me live it down had I still not met him. Asked his advice for a festival virgin as I am going to T in the Park for the first time “Just go and enjoy yourself and have a good time” is his answer!
I said something along the lines of hoping he didn’t think that I was strange as I traveled so far for a gig, and he said, “No, quite a few Scots turn up at gigs all over”.
Had some banter about footie when I explained my boyf would have kicked me out if I had worn a Celtic top to the gig. Chiara and I asked if it would be ok to have a pic, he said sure. I took a couple of Chiara and then she had trouble using my camera as she didn’t know what Paolo and I meant as we kept trying to explain that she had to hold the button down, this of course meant that Paolo and I had to hug for longer than would normally be necessary, what a shame…

Support act Amy Macdonald turned up and we stood back while they chatted for a couple of minutes, then I asked if he wouldn’t mind signing some stuff, I kept apologising for taking his time but he was totally cool and laid back about it. He signed my programme, plus he picked the T shirt he liked most to sign, and also my CD cover. This is when I remembered to actually tell him my name and he wrote it on the CD cover, told that it was short for Jacqueline, but no one ever knows how to spell it. Paolo then spelled it out for me to prove he knew, so I laughed and said gold star for him, especially as I have family who still can’t spell it! Lastly I asked him to sign some photos I had taken previously. This grabbed his attention, he asked me who took them and what gigs they were from. I panicked slightly as I got into bother at the last gig for my camera flash, I owned up that they were mine, and that unfortunately it was me that must be blinding him, he said, the flashes didn’t bother him at all (we know of course that he sings with his eyes closed), it’s the lighting guys that it drives nuts! He said the pics were really good. I said oh I like this one cause it looks a bit more professional, and he said, No I like them all. I asked if he wanted a copy and he said, “Aye” slipping into his native tongue with a fellow Scot. So I have promised to get a copy to him.
I thanked him for his time and he said “I’ll look for you in the gig”, I said he wouldn’t miss me as I was wearing a bright top, and would try to be at the front with my flag which had a message.

I was so embarrassed once he left as I realised I had been a nervous blethering wreck while speaking to him. Chiara was laughing as we looked through our pics as my hand wouldn’t stop trembling while I was holidng my camera! Whats that all about, a 28 year old woman getting in a state while talking to a 20 year old boy from Paisley ! I continually thanked Chiara for taking 6 (yes SIX) pics of me and Paolo!

Chiara and I go for coffee and time passes quickly till its time to queue!
We get chatting to Marco who was around for Paolo arriving and had given him a quick hand shake then sloped off, (you know how cool guys like to play it), he is really a Brit Indie lad at heart trapped inside the body of an Italian guy, his taste in music is fabulous. Soon met up with Cynthia and Martina, who are disappointed they missed Paolo. Eventually meet Chiara, who gave us all a gift, which was so lovely. Yummy Mummy was last to arrive with her good hubby and we all waited patiently till the doors opened. There was some panic that doors were to open at 7.30 but email confirmations could not be swapped for tickets till 8 but thankfully that was not the case. Also got interviewed for a radio station, Chiara translated for me, and again I forgot to use the little Italian I had learned, duh!!
Once inside I actually got right to the front (first time at a gig ever that I have been at the front), and I tied my flag to the barrier and got ready to Party!!
Unfortunately it was rather hot and in Italy the security don’t hand out water!! We’ve got so much of it in Scotland we give it away, throughout the gig. Yummy Mummy was knackered from travelling all day and had to sit down along with most of the other girls. Unfortunately she wasn’t right at the front so had to get out the crowd to get some air, us Brits are not used to the climate of warmer travels.

Amy MacDonald came on around 9pm, she introduced herself in Italian and asked the crowd how they were, “Come Sta?” Va Bene was the resounding response!
Before singing she said Oh and we have girl from Glasgow here at the front too!! Ottimo I thought, If she can see my flag, then so will Paolo! First time I have seen Amy perform and she was fantastic. It was simply her and her guitar and her voice is so very powerful, she sang several songs including Poison Prince and The Footballer’s Wife. Plus she finished with a fantastic version of The Killers Mr Brightside. Check her out on Myspace!!

Some tunes are played including Marvin Gaye’s Mercy Mercy Me, a fave of Paolo’s, Rehab, covered by Paolo in December gigs and then we hear the Rocky theme tune!!! You know what that means folks…….
Time to Party!!!!!!!!

Alloway Grove gets the Rolling Stone venue bouncing (well the front row was anyway, I don’t think to check behind me).

Time for New Shoes, which was the single which has been most popular in Italy .
Then Rewind.

Before the next song Paolo looks at me and says hello again! Woo hoo!!!

Now it.s These Streets and the whole place is singing, it is a favourite of a lot of Italian fans I spoke to.
Now for Autumn, where there is a hush except for the usual few who do not know of the song well enough and use it simply as a time to scream at Paolo through the quiteness!

Natural Blues gets us all dancing and clapping, followed by Million Faces.
Now time for new tune 55 to 1, I enjoyed this more than before as I knew the words this time round, has a great Country feel to it.
Paolo follows with Dolphins which he introduced by saying who’s song it was, (even I don’t understand him on stage at the best of times) the performance has developed from the Glasgow gigs where only Mick and Paolo performed, with Donny also on Guitar for this one.

Last Request now, of course Paolo lets the crowd belt out the last chorus as always followed by Rainbows which has truly mind blowing guitar playing by Donny and is a fantastic tune to see performed live, I always look forward to this one, though of course I still make up half the words.

Now for Loving You which is one of my faves, especially live with the extra oomph from the drums!
Paolo then took a wee breather and played with the crowd, singing Wayo a couple of times (only way to write the noise he made hopefully makes sense) and the crowd sang it back.

Time for the last track before the encore, I know what coming but it’s great to see and listen to the reaction of those who don’t. Slowly and quietly the guys play as Paolo hums tunefully building up into his renindition of Take Me Out by Franz Ferdinand, which Paolo has made his own on this tour. As the instruments start to belt out the tune to Jenny Don’t Be Hasty the crowd go crazy!!

A few moments to rest before the encore and the crowd quickly start chanting Paolo’s name.

They return to cheers and start with Northen Skies!
Paolo engages with the crowd again and talks of how the band have adopted an ape, and raises some awareness that some species are becoming endangered, before playing I Wanna Be Like You. Hilarious tune, 5 times I’ve seen it performed live now and I still giggle at Mick doing the high voice and Paolo playing trumpet!?!?
Paolo announces they are doing one more song and it’s a new one, Funky Cigarette some fans shout, as many have been awaiting this tune eagerly!! Again I sang the words that I had learned with a few added yeehahs to add to the country feel and the only thing missing from this performance was the inhale of breath at the end!!

The boys exit left of stage with a Buon Notte from Paolo, then the usual madness ensues to get a set list (one day) or a beer can etc. Don’t ask me how but I got chatting to another Scot at the barrier and then a guy gave me a beer can!! Too funny seeing as I wasn’t even trying and promptly got rid of it once I left the venue.

Once the venue empties and most people head home there is probably around 20-30 fans remaining. We’re all shattered but you know you’ve got to stick it out if you want to see the guys. YM, Cynthia, Martina and Chiara were all waiting outside, though we were all dotted around.

YM and I were directly at the alley entrance when an unassuming character walks up and starts chatting to a Roadie. Its Jim, and no one seems to have noticed. I soon say hi, and say I thought it was a great set. Being a fellow scot has an advantage to being an icebreaker meeting the guys overseas. Straight away he said he saw me right at the front (bright top, works a treat) Jim, YM and I went on to talk about all sorts including his sore finger at the start of the Glasgow gigs, when he had to have a hole drilled into his nail, where we were from, the tour bus sleeping arrangements, 7 hour drive to Leipzig, going to America cheap Ryanair flights going to random airports, the Duomo, bus tours, NYC, boat tours round statue of liberty, moskito bites, how the ally was dodgy and stank of p***. He was on really good form and stood chatting for ages, happy to sign my programme and get pics taken.

Donny is surrounded by fans at a quicker pace, as any Patrick Swayze lookalike, rock and roll guitarist would be. I call out hello, again saying it was a great set, he said he knew he could hear a Glaswegian accent during the gig!! He posed for photos with everyone and signed for ages, I told him that his guitar playing was phenominal during Rainbows and that it reminded me of Kelly Jones performance. He didn’t know who I meant till I reminded him it was the lead singer of the Stereophonics, “Ah, he’s no bad” he said.

This boy was hilarious. Came out of his shell during this gig, playing up to the crowd, having a guitar off with Donny, and bashing the symbol on the drums every so often. He even hung a black wonderbra over his Mircophone after it had been thrown on stage.
He was after the gig to put it politely absolutely steaming!!
He was happy to pose for photos, though god knows how he knew how to face the right way, sang Happy Brithday beginning to end to a girl Liaza. We had a bit of chat about people we both might have known that live in his area. Plus I asked him where the high voice came from for the Jungle Book tune, I said it sounded like someone had grabbed him by the n*ts, he said he just imagined someone was holding a gun against his head. He said he tried it with a really gruff deep voice but it just didn’t work. He gave us an example and me and YM agreed that it would definitely have scared the kids. He eventually after about 30 mins or so staggered down the street well after the tour bus had moved on. He got half way down the road, staggered did a full turn and nearly head butted a shop facing. Maybe he was seeing things and thought he was standing on the Mosaic bull on the floor of the Galleria!?!?

We all realise that something is definitely amiss as we have not seen Paolo leave and the tour bus has already left. Takes us all our time to decide to leave the venue and head to the nearest pub. Mick is outside clutching a beer talking to an English girl who worked for someone there. It was a hilarious random conversation about his life back home.

We are all getting a bit weary but there is whispers that Paolo is in the bar. YM, Cynthia and Martina have yet to meet him so we really don’t want to leave yet. Unfortunately Chiara had to leave earlier so had to take her gift for Paolo home with her until next time.

Spoke to quite a few girls, including a blonde with a striped top who I believe may have been a friend of Na’s!?!
They confirmed Paolo was sitting round the corner speaking with friends and they were too shy to approach. YM and myself headed to the end of the bar to have a peek just to see if there was definitely a group of people round there. She needed to have something to stall her ever patient husband who was a complete sweetheart and waited patiently the entire evening while we chatted to all the guys.
Suddenly Paolo stood up and started to call to one of the guys standing behind me. I didn’t intervene and he continued to call though the guys couldn’t hear him at all. He beckoned to me to get the guys attention and I said which guy are you wanting.
When he heard me speak he put his hands to his face and said something like, oh sorry I didn’t realise it was you or something to that effect!! He was trying to apologise for not remembering me immediately, which I thought was hilarious cause I would never expect him to remember one fan from the hundreds or even thousands he meets every week. I said don’t be silly, who is it your wanting. He said, “Never mind, Jacq can you take a pic of me and the guys for me?” I made a joke about Paolo asking me to take a pic of him with his friends whereas it’s always the other way about.
We were pleased that he had called me over as it meant we didn’t feel we were intruding on his evening, got chatting to him, his Glaswegian pal who was visiting from Rome and a couple of Italian guys. Cynthia and Martina were so pleased, got great pics, and Cythia got her homemade flag signed by all the guys.
YM got a couple of great pics, though we got so relaxed she forgot to get a pic signed.
I asked him if he saw me at the front, and he looked jokingly offended and said “I said hello to you during the gig, remember?!” Of course I did, just wanted him to confirm it, ha ha!!!
Mentioned that there had been a couple of other Scot girls there who came up from Rome too as they were staying there now, and that they had been shouting Celtic. Told him I had shouted Rangers back at them and he said, “you know you get flung out for that”, more footie chat ensued!!
He happily posed for more pics, and I asked him to confirm that he wanted a copy of pics I had taken at gigs. I said something like do you want me to put them on a disk so your mum can look and pick her faves, and he said “no, I want a copy printed out the same way you had earlier, I liked that”. I said of course, chuffed to bits that I printed them in such a way that impressed him.
We told him to take care and I said I’d see him at T in the Park, he said, “aye see you at T in the Park”, but I’m pretty sure he’ll not see me, ha ha!!
Finished off the night talking to his pal who was cool as hell, though I forget his name, and his two Italian mates. Italian kisses from all before we headed back to our hotels!!

Spent Thursday doing some more sightseeing with YM and the hubby and enjoyed some Gelato before heading for the airport.
Was so sad to say Arrivederchi and Tante Belle Cose to all the friends I had made.

I listened to my recording of the gig all the way home on the plane and smiled when I read the following 2 things in the Ryanair magazine:

1 .Its amazing how such a random bunch of people can get on so well in such a short space of time.
2. My horoscope reading for June: Leo – There are hidden treasures waiting for you on a journey. You may discover them in the beautiful landscapes around you or in the people you meet while out and about. Whatever you are doing you should make the most of this optimistic and progressive trend.

There are a few things I took from Milano and a few things I left behind:

I take from Milano some fantastic new friends and wonderful memories.

I leave behind a lost earring and a little piece of my heart………….

Jacq xxx