Deiā Dreaming - Mallorca 18/12/04

It begins with a dream. I'm sat on a train and it's hurtling through the countryside, through towns, through tunnels and past mountains. Quite where I'm going, I don't know but judging by the other passengers it could be Deiā. There's a bald headed guy in a long black coat playing a tin whistle, a guy in a pointy hat banging a gong, two blond angelic children playing with matches, empty wine bottles rolling around the floor quite drunk. But the dream takes an odd turn - the train puts me down in Playa de Palma. Now, like most people, I like a cheap holiday in the sun but give me bamboo hut, hammock and chillum rather than ribbon development, Scandinavian smorgasbord and Heineken. Somehow I awake, pack my bags, put on my blue suede shoes and get myself out of there.

I'd long wanted to go to Deiā - it's part of the myth and the legend (KA but also Daevid Allen, Ollie Halsall and a number of other equally colourful characters who don't mean quite as much to me), but I'd always been a little wary of the other side of the Mallorcan coin. How far had the developers been? Was it Costas on an island? Would the lingua franca be German? The conjuncture of the gig in Palma de Mallorca and the publication of Tomās Graves' beautiful book, Tuning Up At Dawn, just made my visit inevitable.

My good friends John and Anne-Marie Heilker had also long been of a mind to undertake this quasi-pilgrimage. There are two undeniable advantages to going anywhere with John. He takes a camera with him wherever he goes (most are born head first but in John's case it was camera first and ever since the camera has always been right there in front of his nose) and, being Dutch, he has no qualms about knocking on doors and buttonholing strangers. It's no surprise that Anne-Marie has the patience of a saint.

We had a phone number for someone who advertised guided walks to the 'secret places' in Deiā. By the time we got there our information was well out of date, so we rubbernecked our own way around as best we could. Up to the church and the cemetery on the top of the 'puig'. Located Robert Graves' simple tombstone (the inscription handwritten in the drying cement) and Ollie's plaque complete with rusting jack plug, tone and volume controls. From Tomās' book we gleaned that that the plaque was broken in two before it was put up on the cemetery wall. It must have been an inspired zephyr indeed that slammed the door, that propped up the plaque. Deiā's cemetery is a place of great beauty - miniscule, clustered, random, colourful - where autochtone and emigré lie side by side. Dwarfed by the mountains and overlooking the sea. Not a bad spot for your ultimate siesta. From Tomās' book we also discovered that Mati Klarwein, whose plaque hangs next to Ollie's, was the artist who painted the cover to Santana's Abraxas.

We tried in vain to locate Daevid Allen's Observatory but in the distance we heard Euterpe's donkey braying us Good Morning. That evening an almost perfect bananamoon grinned down at us.

We knocked on Tomās the printer's door but he was tuning up elsewhere. From Joanna the potter we discovered that he would be at the Palma concert. She very kindly phoned through on our behalf and set up a meeting to have our books signed.

We headed off down the Calle Arxiduc Lluis Salvador, named after one of the first foreigner's to settle in Deiā in 1867 (a hippie one hundred years ahead of the times?). It was certainly sleepy (mid-week, mid-December) - one shop and one bar gave some, albeit agonizing, signs of life. We wandered down Es Clot, the lane that leads down to the sea, and stopped off at No. 7 ('s Clot 7?). True to form, John banged on the door and somehow got a polite answer. We took some pictures in the garden and bumped into Old Bartolomeo on our way out. Did he recall the musicians that had lived here 15 years ago? I thought he was going to belt me over the head with his stick and tell me to mind my own business. His face lit up with a smile. 'Ah yes, they use to keep me awake all night'. We imagined the Fools After Midnight and the groupies that gathered around outside the house - clearly no ASBOs in Deiā. We continued down to the sea. Soon the lane became no more than a goat track and, some 20 minutes later, we reached the bottom of the Cala. A pretty desolate place at this time of year (one bar, moth-balled for the winter, and a grubby stretch of sand that woudn't qualify as a beach even to the most deprived) but a spot that on warmer evenings and nights must have witnessed more than it's fair share of revelry. One helluva hike back home after a skinful.

That evening there was no electricity in Deiā. Like the old days, we kept hearing. We drank ourselves fairly stupid by candlelight in the one bar until the electricity came back on. Thanked Bacchus, who guided our stumbling steps to the only restaurant in town. Gave ourselves inreversible brain damage with Patxaran, Franco's Revenge and other Spanish concoctions that I had long ago foresworn. By this time we were alone in the bar - apart from one solitary drunk and he was past caring about very much. It didn't take John long to convince the young barman, who vaguely remembered Kevin but hadn't heard his music, to put on Alive In California. Coals and Newcastle spring to mind.

Did we sing The Hat Song on the way back to the hotel? I cannot say for sure.

Teatre Municipal Xesc Forteza, Palma (18th December 2004)

The Teatre Municipal is a spanking new all seater auditorium in the middle of Palma old town. It's a dickens of a place to find, down narrow streets that only see sunlight when the sun is directly above. The sort of streets that never run straight for more than 50 yards and down which only Mediterraneans can take a car. Stray cats dart around in the shadows of the austere 15th and 16th century seminary buildings. Vaste wooden doors are securely locked and windows barred. When you eventually stumble upon the Teatre, hemmed in on all sides, you wonder how it got there. A vast cube of white stone, glass and steel. Somehow it blends in with its mediaeval and Moorish surroundings. The Teatre Municipal seats 361 (so John tells me) and tonight, Lady Rachel, it was a sell out.

Seated, comfortably, and with no bar to distract (or are Spanish melomaniacs just more respectful than we Brits?) the audience listened in rapt attention throughout. Clearly there were family, friends and old acquaintances present, which may well have upped the stakes, but I don't recall Kevin in such fine voice for a long time. He looked fitter than last summer's Kevin of Gaunt - a few more kilos and a sounder disposition? Marvin's keyboards came through loud and clear. Ludo played a blinder, precision and drive in that solitary world he seems to inhabit. Patrick solid as ever - I swear he nearly got excited during Beware Of The Dog. What to say about Alain? Lady Rachel induced goosepimples. He had a few new tricks up his sleeve and some new riffs too. I particularly liked the piccato on Didn't Feel Lonely.

First Set:

Second Set:


So no surprises there, although I'm not sure I've heard Big Bamboo before.

A few hiccups here and there, of course, a wart or two and dodgy intros, but that's what you get. And we all thank you very much for it.

WAWS thanks author STEVE FOSTER and his intrepid companions