Gig 25: Afghanistan Tarin Kowt

Show two in Tarin Kowt! You are encouraged to drink as much bottled water as possible as there is a real chance you will become dehydrated while away.  There is also a better chance that you can be struck down with some hideous gastro if you drink out of a tap so bottled water ahoy for me!  The threat of gastro was plainly evident in one toilet cubicle where they had a designated "Gastro toilet".  Not only is that disgusting but it also encourages you to read signs closely before opening the door.  I have smelled death and it smells yucky.

Apart from one mad dash in the middle of the night to go to the toilet I slept soundly.  I was sharing a room with a funny soldier nicknamed Faysey and Ben Gillies.  I have to admit that I found it quite funny to be sharing a bunk bed with a member of Silverchair. Ben is such a cool guy that you wish all rock stars took a leaf out of his book on how to conduct themselves.  In fact the whole band was just full of great guys.  James Haselwood, Lachlan Doley, Terepai Richmond and Adam Miller were a delight to travel with, their easy going attitudes making everything pretty smooth.  I heard a couple of stories about previous entertainers heading to the Middle East and all I can say is "I lucked out!"

Doctor Karl is also a delight and a fascinating guy.  I've known people half as smart as Karl who can't be told anything but this is where he differs.  Karl very humbly declares he is not a smart man, he's just learned.  ("It's pronounced learned, Pepsi."  One of my favourite Homer Simpson quotes)  Karl was the human equivalent of a sponge on this tour, always hungry for more information and always happy to share his knowledge. Considering the amount of questions the band and I asked Karl he would have been well within his rights to tell us to calm down but his energy and enthusiasm for life is second to none.  It is quite inspiring.

Since we had a day off we were taken to fire machine guns on the range.  When we arrived in the designated shooting area soldiers were practicing firing missiles from rocket launchers.  These explosions rocked the ground and could be heard quite clearly through our ear plugs.  I have fired guns before and quite enjoyed it but this felt different.  It took me a while to work out what left me feeling uncomfortable but I think it was because these weapons could be used at any given moment in the heat of an actual war brought home the reality and danger of a fire arm.  Of course I have always known that intellectually but emotionally it had never locked in.  The soldiers that looked after us were brilliant, great guys and girls who took their time to show us the correct way to use the equipment, very generous with their time and patience.

After all the firing was over we watched as locals crept up from the other side of the hill we'd been firing at.  These young people race from the other side of the horizon to steal as much metal as they can.  There was even one young man on a motorbike.  The soldiers informed me this happens all the time.  Sometimes they can even get a bit cocky and come up really close the barrier where they hurl rocks at the Australian.  They appear like Jawas looking for scraps and once they have what they want they race off to sell the metal.  It was one of the more bizarre moments that I experienced on the whole trip.

That night for the gig I decided to change up my setlist a little.  I didn't know if we would have any return audience on the second night so I didn't think it would hurt.  Normally on a tour like this I would work out a setlist and stick to it.  Here it is:

 

Set One

Gig brief

Flying on a Hercules

Red Alert

Soldier's Honesty:  "You're Fucked!"

Mess Hall and Plastic Cutlery

Firing Range

Gastro Toilet

Gastro

Hen's Night

Mount Isa

Old Lady and Scrabble

Gym Story

Doctor Story

Turning 40

Hairy Baby

Don't Invite To Parties

Being An Arsehole

Little Boy Joke

 

Set Two

Tripping and Farting

Getting Angry as I Get Older

No Need to Share All Your Opinions

Glitter in Invitations

People wearing your glasses

Spooning

There was a lot more ad-libbing at the beginning and this is a product of being in the one place for an extended period of time.  You have longer to notice the quirks of a place when you're left to do "normal" things like lunch, showering, walking about etc.  I thought this was a good gig but not quite as good as the previous night but that is the roll of the dice when you're attempting new material right up the top of a set.  I felt Doctor Karl and Bento hit more of a groove this night though as they both seemed happier with their shows.

 

 

Again I was lucky enough to hang out with some of the soldiers and have a chat about their lives.  They were so friendly and welcoming it made every gig an absolute joy. Luckily there were no warnings this night but I found myself still exhausted by 10pm. The amount of information that was going in every day was fascinating but not leaving me with much more to give by the time the gig was over.

 

 

Justin Hamilton

8th of March, 2013

Tarin Kowt