The Spanish Riveter: From ‘THREE CONCERTS’, from the short-story collection NOLA IZAN GAREN GAUZA by Iban Zaldua, translated by Aritz Branton

1.– King Crimson/Roxy Music Anoeta Velodrome, 24th August 1982 

I told Juanpa there wasn’t any problem about going to the festival: the management press conference was going to be the following week, or two weeks later at most. I agreed to everything that would happen after that with Rosón, and the police knew all about it. He could be sure they wouldn’t bother us; in any case, how were they going to find us among so many people? But he was wary, and I couldn’t convince him to leave the flat. In fact, he’d been highly strung since the incident at Lorea, even though he hadn’t got out of the car. But two years had gone by, and I thought that was long enough to start forgetting about things, or, at least, not to think about them so much. And even less so now that they were about to become part of the past. 

I don’t like going to concerts alone, but I didn’t have a choice. My idea was to go and see Roxy Music. I’ve been a fan for a long time – all the tapes are there in my room to prove it – and I thought the record they were touring, Avalon, was OK; perhaps just a single criticism, perhaps a faster song was missing from it, something like on the older records. But the concert wasn’t at all bad, not at all: Bryan Ferry was as elegant as I had imagined him, and the sound was very clear. Having said that, Phil Manzanera came across as a bit of a yob sometimes. But I have to admit I didn’t pay as much attention as I’d wanted to. 

For one thing, the supporting band was amazing. I knew King Crimson, of course: they were one of the stars of symphonic rock; my brother had a few records by them; for instance, that first one with the face on the cover. In fact, until the concert was announced I had thought the group had broken up. But they were astonishing from the very first song. They came out one by one: firstly the drummer, playing electronic percussion; then the singer, a skinny bloke, who joined in with the drummer on electronic percussion; then a bald musician with a moustache who played a weird string instrument – I was later to find out his device was a Chandler Stick; and, finally, we caught sight of Robert Fripp, the band’s leader, in a corner, sitting on a stool, surrounded by machines and getting bizarre sounds out of his guitar. The song rose in a crescendo as instruments and musicians joined in. They all gave out a lot of energy.

In fact, I almost danced more to King Crimson than to Roxy Music. They didn’t play many old songs, although that was what most people had been expecting, and, of course, the concert seemed too short to us, which is the fate of support groups. I thought they sounded really modern, almost New Wave – I know them better now because I bought their two latest records right away, Discipline and Beat. The latter, in fact, was the one they were touring at the concert in Donostia. 

And I have to admit that I didn’t pay so much attention to the next act because I came across the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen halfway though King Crimson. She was four or five rows in front of me, just a few steps away; until that moment I had only seen her long dark hair. And then, halfway through ‘Frame by Frame’, she turned back towards me and stared, her look deeper than the ocean. And I realised immediately that she was looking at me, only at me; I held her gaze for as long as I could, but eventually I had to lower my eyes, I don’t know why. And when I looked up again the song had finished and the girl was no longer there. I pushed my way forward, which people didn’t like, to look for her, but she was nowhere to be seen. And I wasn’t able to concentrate properly on the following act: I walked all around the place looking for that girl. I waited in the middle of the velodrome after the concert until everyone had left. 

But it was no good.

By Iban Zaldua

Translated by Aritz Branton

This short story is available at Published with permission.


From the short-story collection GUIDED TOUR (‘Nola izan garen gauza’)

By Iban Zaldua

Translated by Aritz Branton

Published by Erein (2021)

Read The Spanish Riveter here or order your paper copy from here.

Buy books from The Spanish Riveter through the European Literature Network’s The Spanish Riveter page.

Iban Zaldua is a Basque writer. He has won the Premio Euskadi de Literatura three times: in 2006 for his novel Etorkizuna, in 2012 for his children’s book Azken garaipena, and in 2013 for his essay Ese idioma raro y poderoso. Zaldua writes in both Basque and Spanish.

Aritz Branton graduated in English and History from the University of Salford. He worked as a translator in the UK before moving to the Basque Country. He works in Basque and English as a translator and university lecturer.

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