Bilbao review from Koen Burggraeve:

pH, bilbao, at euskalduna, 18-05-2002

hop, 400 km to the north of madrid (for some 20 euro, surely we're not in england here !) and here is bilbao, basque country and their language full of x's

i can read and understand some spanish, but this basque language remains a closed book to me and don't say out loud that you're in SPAIN here, people have been killed for less !

the city is full with slogans to make clear that what (a lot of) people here want is 'an autonomous state', with as much independence from spain as possible one thing really pleased me, as well here in bilbao as in madrid:

throughout the city, all walls covered with posters that invited to participate in a protest against the 'corrida', that cruel bullfighting, in which no bull never stood an honest chance, "stop this bloody tradition"; damned right they are and all the more so, because the environmental issues have appeared in an unfavourable light after some activist fighting for the right of animals killed one of holland's most famous politicians the guy, following the newspapers, was a DANGEROUS vegetarian (now you see where it all leads to, and i dare say so, because the proportion of vegetarians under the ph followers is overproportional high ! , talking from experience here) , and the killer's name is (it hasn't mentioned here before, but it's well worth knowing this as a ph fan)


no really

this brings me neatly back to one ph in bilbao.

This city really underwent a real facelift in recent years: i wasn't able to recognise it from last time i was here, six years ago, where i described it as one of the ugliest cities i've ever seen (to my defense: ph was playing in one of the poorer quarter of the city at the time)

but the guggenheim museum of modern art, and the palacio de congresos y de la musica are two exponents of bilbao's new face show should start at 20.30, but at around 20.00 , when they opened the doors, there were 5 or so people my god, then we entered this palacio de congresos, which is a giant building of all kinds of rooms and auditoria for meetings and concerts, looking for 'euskalduna':

this turned out to be a giant, brilliant and hypermodern concert hall,specially designed for the best acoustic effects,and having around 800 seats !!! and a giant stage, on which stood, totally lost in all that space and so barely visible: a yamaha keyboard !

this show cost 9.02 euro, that is less than one third of the ticket price for the london shows (so surely, and once again, we were _not_ in england !)

we chose our seats, and feared the worst: 8OO seats ??? but all of a sudden, people started coming in , and more and more, alone, couples, family-wise, old, young, men and women and finally we had some half of the audience filled the show started at ... 20.30 precisely, no minute later and ph kicked of with 'siren song': what a sound, i thought but all of a sudden, after a minute or so, and each time when pH hammered the low key notes, it was as if somebody really hit metal with a hammer; ph became aware of it as well, and pushed the keys harder as in an effort to offer the technicians the possibility to solve the problem: but it only got worse

so this was really a bad bad and very annoying start, but it got fixed within some seconds after the technician came on stage after the song came to an end ...

this was another ph than the night before: more distant, more trying, what shall i say, to do his best to offer an even show:

and surely, that's what we got: less low points, but the price was: less high points as well: a very classic setlist, brought in a very classic way (made me think of the tides bootleg more than once)

and so we were treated to very nice, but no special versions of too many of my yesterdays nothing comes wendy (sung with more self-assurance than in norwich, but once he got to the refrain, started the right text in a 'wrong' melody, and wasn't able or willing to find it for the rest of the song) unrehearsed (better on keyboard than on piano the day before)

i will find you
veronica (a very succesful attempt to my ears, and, even if i find myself a bit uneasy saying this: one of the highlight of the evening for me)
modern (another highlight, as always)

to keyboard again with
a better time
a way out (sneezingless)
train time

this last one started really brilliant: as paul ridout was absent, ph surely had asked to put the echo on during the whole of the song leading to: 'along the tracks tracks trax trax, the wires are humming humming ming ming ... but, needless to say, the effect of it all soon wore off after some sentences !

one encore: stranger still,
with the classic screamy off mike ending, ph going off stage

and then, trick of the day, after this outburst of energy and breath control during the 'a stranger a worldly man' section seamlessly leading into radiohead's EXIT MUSIC

with, very appropriate

wake from your dreams
the drying of your tears
today we escape

but also:

we hope that you choke, that you choke ?????

should remember this when i organise a gig myself !

anyway: very docile people here, all leaving the venue quite immediately, and only some five or so persons with half a hammill collection under the arm (much to ph's relief, as i could observe from my place)

and then, it was out in the bilbao night, where a local fan finally learned us how to do a tapas bar marathon

nice ending, to a nice weekend abroad, that, once again, i don't regret one second

koen b