Monday, 1 June 2015

S.P.Q.R. Skins Memorial, Rome 2015

This is how the story went, I saw the gig flyer by accident and the band line up blew me away. A fine collection of European bands was in the schedule, plus top of the tops from across the ocean – the lads from Bound for Glory and the new promising band from Canada Legitime Violence.

I got in touch with my good, old comrade from Rome to discuss some details about my trip and staying there. I’ve never visited the Eternal City before, so this was a nice opportunity to do some historical tourism in the cradle of European civilization. Time ran fast, and at the afternoon of 21st May I was flaying from Sofia to the capital of Italy full of enthusiasm for the upcoming weekend. I was picked from the Fiumichino airport and drove directly to a nice restaurant near by the Casa  D’Italia Colleverde – the home of mighty S.P.Q.R. Skins. A gala dinner for the comrades who arrived same day, was about to take place there, so about 40 skinheads were already around the tables waiting for their meals. Right after I entered the restaurant I jumped on Big Ed (and the rest of the guys of BFG) and Stigger, who were having some nice time together and I was very glad to join them. Stigger appeared to be a very polite and down to earth person, we have a good talk about the glory old days of Skrewdriver, so if all goes well I’ll interview him for my upcoming book. The dinner itself was kind of culinary fiesta, we ate like ten different meals, starting with salads, salamis and spaghetti, thru pasta, beef steaks and chicken skewer, to some fine local sweets, all this poured with lots of white wine, grappa and beer. After all this food I could barely take a breath, so we went down to the Skinhouse for a quick beer and went to bed to take a rest. The Skinhouse (Casa  D’Italia Colleverde) is a four floors ex school building, located 5 km away from Rome. Inside the building, there is a pub, which can host ballad gigs, a concert hall in the basement for 450 persons and some rooms and aprtments for the guests and the permanent residents. In the house lives few of Rome skins and some Italian families that need a house. Also the guys have their own Rugby team, where they train a lot of the local kids and they are really loved and well respected in the neighborhood.

After just a few hours sleep and a breakfast with my Flemish roommate (hello Kim), we went to sightsee the Coliseum with a bunch of Swedish, French and Canadian guys. Despite the rain our noisy skinhead crew had a great time and fun together and turned into a major attraction for the tourist groups at the downtown (thank you Swedish Kim, you should start your own stand up comedian show). No need to say that Rome is a beautiful city, full of historical monuments, so we didn’t have enough time to see them all. At the afternoon we went back to the Skinhouse, where at around 8.30 p.m. a “small” (like 120 people) ballad gig was staged. Lots of guys have arrived meanwhile, like my mates from Slovenia, Russia, Greece, Hungary, Germany, England and even Australia (hello K. you old fella).

The ballad night was opened by some acoustic set of Legitime Violence who did a few songs, followed by the bagpipe of Griffin who did some songs as well, among which was my favorite “Sons of our race”. Stigger pleased the crowd with some nice old tunes of the Skrewdriver’s patriotic ballads who made the crowd to sing along with him. BFG did an acoustic set, which if I’m not wrong is their first of a kind ever. By the time the pub was overcrowded already so I went outside in the yard to spend some time with my comrades from all across Europe, so I didn’t catch up a lot of what they played. I surely catched up few tunes by Stivie, who came together with the rest of B&H England crew. At the end of the evening some local musicians played some ballads in Italian, including the hymn “Avanti Ragazzi di Buda” for the delight of the Magyar comrades (Ria, Ria, Hungaria)!

Right after the end of the music program, a representative of Swedish B&H divison did a small speech and ceremony, thanking the other divisions that helped them set up. The night went very well, with some minor incidents with people who can’t handle the effect of alcohol. So, around 2 a.m. I went upstairs to our room to catch some sleep for the next day… but simply it didn’t work out…. when a gang of dozen noisy Portuguese comrades invaded the room (number of beds was enough for everyone) and kept me awaken until the sunrise :)

At Saturday morning I was heavily tired, when we headed with two busses to a venue which was located around 70 km away from Rome. In was place in the middle of nowhere in my opinion, but location was very cleverly chosen for the needs of the event. There was a large parking zone with a garden, in front of roofed gig hall which can easily offer space for 1 200 plus attenders. We were there few hours before the gig, so we had time to rest a little bit and to have some food and beers. Lots of people from around Europe and Italy began to arrive at the place, so around 7.30 p.m. it was the kick off of the concert.

Nessuna Resa opened the show. Up to this moment this band was almost unknown for me, but I have to admit they sound is really professional, very tuneful and sing along melodies in the good tradition of Italian Oi! They played for about an hour, warmly supported by the Italian skinheads. I strongly recommend catching them on you tube and the support the band buying their official cd’s. My Bulgarian Homeland was represented apart from me, by six righ wing hooligans who came to see the Rome football derby, but didn’t missed the opportunity to visit the gig as well. We did a very good job to open the pogo dancing for the night – in a true Balkan gentleman’s manner J 

Skrew You was second on the bill for the night. As you may be already known this band is side project of Stigger, Griffin and Mushy (last Skrewdriver drummer) and their only goal is to play live the songs of last Skrewdriver album “Hail Victory”. So they did, they played all the tracks from this album, plus two extra songs on encore. Unfortunately Mushy couldn’t make it to the gig, so he was replaced by the singer of Gesta Bellica. 

Bound for Glory which were the headliners of this gig and they did their very best to satisfy their fans who had traveled even from places like Brazil and Australia to see the playing. The band played nearly 2 hours (!!!) set, mixing old tunes and songs from their last two albums such as: Vindication, Hey Joe, Stuka Pilot, Valkierie, No More Jagermeister, The Iron Eagle Flies Again and many more.

After a short break Faustrecht was the next band on stage. The crowd was already a little bit tired of the previous breath taking performance, but after a song or two the slam re started in full force again. Unfortunately due to the late time they didn’t played their full set which was a bit disappointing for a die hard fan of the band like me. Nevertheless more great bands where about to come on stage to rock us, for the next hours.

I must declare that the gig was a Memorial for 4 Italian comrades who have lost their lives in the last few years. Around midnight a minute silence in the memory of Gianluchino, Mirko, Simone and Emanuele was held in full respect and discipline by the attenders.

Next on the schedule were Canadians of Legitime Violance. They did a great aggressive set of mostly their own songs sand in their native (for Quebec) French.

Gesta Bellica took the stage at the early hours of Sunday, when surprisingly for me the hall was still almost full of people who had enough energy to slam. They had a strong support from Veneto Front Skinheads.
Ultimium was the last band for the night, but to be honest I didn’t catched a lot of their music, because I was 4 a.m. already and we were all busy to catch our bus back to the Skinhouse, which we reached at 6 a.m. After a quick nap, it was time to go home after almost three days of non stop party time and no sleeping.

To sum it up… it was a TOP weekend in Italy!  Both ballad night and the gig was second to none!  Great atmosphere and hospitality! Very solid and strict organization from A to Z! Security lads (B&H Hexagone, England and Portugal (yeah… the noisy geezers) did a good job, there were no troubles during the gig.

The gig has been visited by around 700 people from all across the White world including Brazil, Australia. Chile, Canada, USA and almost every European nation.

Thanks to all involved in the organization, especially to Pigi, Franco and Riccardo! Looking forward to see you soon comrades!!! Hail S.P.Q.R. Skins!!!

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