On another occasion, also on the Traffic tour, but down in the south of Italy we ran into another curious phenomena of those days for the first time, the Rioting Maoists of Italy
In general Italy is a country that I am rather fond of, but as place for us to work it was really scary at that time. The Mafia controlled all pop concerts in Italy back then – and perhaps still do for all I know, and there were a large number of young people, who described themselves as Maoists (Not sure why), who felt that all such concerts should be free.. Certain lack of understanding of economics there I felt, but that is what they felt strongly about.
Anyway, this manifested itself in a sort of pre-arranged and orchestrated riot at all pop concerts in Italy at that time. So we would turn up at the venue, and the Italian Riot Police would already be there with their riot gear, armoured cars, water cannon and so on, and would be busy setting up huge fences around the venue. In due time the “Maoists” would start to gather, with their face masks, helmets and banners….
Mostly the riots took place outside the venue, as the cops managed to keep the kids away more or less. But in Naples it really got out of hand, and as the concert was moving nicely along, suddenly tear gas grenades started bursting in the hall, and as one, the entire audience whipped out gas masks, put them on and sat back to enjoy the rest of the concert. We on the other hand were not so well prepared, and had to carry on with streaming eyes and noses as the place filled up with tear gas.
After a bit there were a couple of huge explosions outside, shortly followed by a number of rioters rushing onto the stage, closely followed by riot cops armed with short rifles, who proceeded to beat the hell out of the kids with their rifle butts, right beside poor Stevie Winwood who was attempting to sing….
The unconscious kids were dragged off by the cops and we simply carried on….. Had no choice really.
We later discovered that the explosions were two car bombs the rioters let off outside….
Life on the road for a roadie was never dull.
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