Vixen Of The Violin: The Anna Phoebe Column (No. 16)
This time, Anna Phoebe recalls how she got into ‘good music’, where she was when Kurt Cobain died, gets into a helicopter with a strange man, gets escorted to the best places in Lisbon – oh, and does a gig! It’s a tough life. Check out all of Anna’s columns.
So I see that Manic Street Preachers have a new album, Postcards From A Young Man, due out on September 20. Ah, that takes me back. My first ever album was MC Hammer’s Too Legit to Quit. After a sharp learning curve in ‘good music’, I was thankfully quickly teleported into a much better world of Doc Martens, long skirts and black eyeliner.
Essential listening became Nirvana, Elastica, Primal Scream and, of course, the Manics. Unlike those who remember where they were when Diana died, I distinctly remember the night of Kurt’s death. It was an emotional night for a 13-year-old. Myself and two girlfriends were locked in my bedroom in a small village in Scotland, lighting candles and preparing the Ouija board to try to contact him. He was obviously much in demand that night, and for many nights after, because we never quite succeeded in raising his spirit.
The Manic Street Preachers’ Holy Bible album was also an intrinsic part of my teenage years. It was the summer holidays when Johnny, who I was CONVINCED I was going to marry, gave me a cassette copy of the album. I treasured it with my life, and played it over and over again until the tape reel became mangled and the music became a little warbled. The track She Is Suffering was the anthem of my teenage angst – even now, when I hear Richey’s voice it takes me straight back to the times when I thought no one (except him) could understand me, and that life was fundamentally UNFAIR.
The release of the much less dark-sounding Everything Must Go in 1996 also seemed to mirror my own ‘growing up’. The album, produced by Mike Hedges, was a huge turning point for the band, with anthemic reverb-laden walls of sound and soaring symphonic strings. To this day, the title track is one of my favourites of all time. It was essential listening for me as I sat studying for my GCSEs. So – I will be doing everything I can to see them when they start touring in late September. Full tour dates can be found on their website: www.manicstreetpreachers.com
From sitting school exams to private helicopters in Lisbon – there’s no logical or clever way to connect the two, so I shall plunge right in. I managed to tick off one of my Top 10 Things To Do list by taking an unexpected helicopter ride. Last week Roxy Music flew out to Lisbon for a show. The night we arrived, Colin (the pianist/musical director) and I went through the rambling back streets of Lisbon to find some food. We managed to get a table outside a very busy restaurant, where the fresh fish coming out of the kitchens smelled absolutely divine. Sandwiched between tables on all sides we ate the most delicious meal starting with Portuguese white port, chorizo and local cheeses, followed by wine and fish and ending with fantastic coffee.
We happened to strike up conversation with the two suited and well-heeled gentlemen sitting next to us – long story short, I mentioned that we had a day off the following day until leaving for our gig at 8pm, and asked the best way to get to the nearest beach. One of the guys casually mentioned that he had a private helicopter and could take us to the best beach in the region, 80km south of Lisbon. Colin, being one of those sensible Oxford types who doesn’t get into helicopters with strange men and suffers from vertigo, declined. I, however, accepted immediately and asked what time we would be picked up.
So the next day at midday, myself and two of the backing singers were picked up in a 1968 Mercedes convertible and taken to a private hangar where we climbed into a perfect four-seater Robinson helicopter. It was ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE! Our host, Joao Bravo (aka Captain Johnny Bravo) was the perfect gentleman, taking us for a smooth ride all along the coast, over the estuary and across the nature reserve down to a beautiful golden beach. We landed by a restaurant where we drank the world’s most perfect caipirinhas, ate the world’s most succulent langoustines, the most tender calamari, the most delicious dorado, etc.
It was made all the more perfect because the whole series of events just seemed so surreal! At one point I texted my boyfriend: ‘I’m in a helicopter!! I’m going to the beach!!!’ The response was: ‘I’m at Shepherds Bush roundabout!! I’m going to work!!’ I allowed myself a second of smugness. Captain Bravo kept introducing us to friends along the beach and in the restaurant, and we would sing the one Roxy song all Portuguese seem to know and love – More Than This. (I attempted the harmonies but ended up singing the guitar and synth parts…)
After a perfect ride back along the coast and a tour of Captain Bravo’s 300-year-old sprawling mansion in the hillside of Lisbon, we found ourselves back in our hotel room with time for a quick shower before heading off for the show. It was quite possibly one of the most deluxe treats to date! So, Captain B, if you ever find yourself on this website, a HUGE thank you! If any of you readers find yourself in Lisbon and want to charter a private jet/helicopter you can find him here www.helibravo.com. And the moral of the story is: ALWAYS be nice to the person sitting next to you at a restaurant – you never know what could happen!
Right. That was my week – off to Japan tomorrow… now that’s a LONG flight, but well worth it. I am so excited to see Tokyo. The question is, I wonder if I could find a private jet and a pilot in the next 24 hours? Hmmm. I’m not sure how many people in North London have their own aircraft hangars in their back garden.
Inspiration Track For The Week: Manic Street Preachers Everything Must Go