News Archives: 2019

Compiled by Terry Kilburn

DTRW Tour

The tour may be done and dusted…

The tour may be done and dusted, but you can still relive the shows at home with the official live audio recordings! Available to download, or on limited edition guitar shaped USB key in collector case. MarkKnopfler.com/liveconcerts

Posted by Mark Knopfler on Tuesday, October 1, 2019

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Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 25th September 2019 – New York NY

The Iconic Holy Temple of Rock and Roll, as Billy Joel once described Madison square Garden, was to be our final destination of this very special tour. The last time we came here was as Dire Straits in February 1992 and before that, October 1985 when Billy Joel guested. My recollections of that night are well faded but I remember one thing especially, the atmosphere. When I walked out front during Bonnie Raitt’s set tonight, I immediately felt the same surge through my veins and relaxed immediately. “This is going to be a good show”, I thought to myself. Prior to that, there were uncharacteristic nerves. I’m not quite sure why as after playing 85 shows, that kind of thing doesn’t happen. Maybe it was Bonnie’s presence or just the pressure to ensure it was a flawless show to finish the tour with? Go out with a bang… but whatever it was, thanks to this New York crowd, it was gone.

Here, in New York city, or even across the U.S. for that matter, I’m not sure there is a venue that could match everything that MSG has on offer. It’s what we Brits would call a ‘Tardis’, it looks so much larger from the inside and as Mr. Joel said, it is iconic. The journey from our hotel on 57th Street was interesting as Google maps was suggesting that it was quicker to walk. Midtown Manhattan was still manacled by the effects of the UN general assembly this week and the NYPD deemed it necessary to block of enough streets as to cause virtual gridlock. In fact, last night, walking to a restaurant, we were prevented from crossing 5th Avenue for 10 minutes as that president chap drove by in his motorcade. Anyway, we left the hotel and walked along 58th street to meet the cars, if they’d tried to get to the hotel entrance, it would have been another half an hour added to the journey such is the way the Streets and Avenues run.

Eight Avenue traffic heads North and Seventh, South, as we all know yet today it was slow going down to 32nd, around the venue and into the dock. The inching crawl took about 30 minutes and we were met at the gate by a sniffer dog who cleared the SUV for entry into the building. We climbed the steep ramp and had a mandatory bag search. My suitcase jam-filled with American sweets and foodstuffs (for the boys back home) caused mild amusement. It was destined for the wardrobe case. There’s a bit of space that we can ship personal items home making the check-in at JFK a little easier.

Great gaggles of local crew were sitting around on chairs chatting about either The Mets, The Yankees, The Jets or the Knicks and even more were driving fork lift trucks, mostly in reverse, as all you could hear was incessant beeping. The one thing that the MSG doesn’t lack is manpower. The union ensures there’s a man in every corner, sometime two or more. Our backline crew barely lift a thing in these places, the good news is, that know what they’re doing. It may be expensive but they know their shit. We headed for the dressing rooms which were perfect in every way. Loads of comfy couches, relaxed lighting and what looked like brand new clean toilets. We waited for Dave hall, our Stage Manager to give the word then headed up to the stage for our last sound check.

Arriving on stage at sound check, Bonnie Raitt looked every bit as stunning as the last time I saw her on stage with us in 2006 in LA. Her characteristic White flecked Red curly hair and her signature dark wood Stratocaster. We sound checked the song we had been secretly running in sound checks for the past month in preparation for this evening, ‘Wherever I Go’. I have to say that when Bonnie came in singing her verse, I nearly fell off my chair. What a voice. I’d forgotten. She, with her trademark bottleneck slide on her middle finger, exchanged gorgeous solos with Mark on the play-out and we ran the song another couple of times, goosebumps appearing periodically on my arms. Bonnie was quite taken with our band, in particular with Tom and Graeme who played the softest, coolest ‘pads’ in the song. Not easy to do. At one point she said, “My band is gonna sound like mud wrestling after this”. “I don’t think so Bonnie, your band is awesome”.

Ready for the show, Bonnie’s band sound checked and we said hi to a few of the guys in the band. Ricky Fatar is Bonnie’s drummer. An amazing player and we all particularly enjoyed watching him. Aaron Neville’s son, Ivan, was guesting on keyboards too. He’s quite a player. The next couple of hours seems to pass quickly as the arena filled and Bonnie  and her band took to the stage. It was a great set and a perfect warm-up for what was to come. We were ready.

Donning our in-ear monitors for the last time, we hugged, lots, and I mean lots, and headed for the stage. Paul Crockford made his customary Union Jack-embroidered ‘boxing’ announcement and we were off. The energy on the stage was insane but not unexpected. The smiles were everywhere and the band simply relished every note and moment. There was some emotion for all but actual tears were not in evidence. Not so for some of the crew, I learned afterwards. Mark thanked the ‘best crew in the world’ in the middle of the set and we continued on towards the climax of the show. The encores.

Even in my wildest dreams as a teenager, I would never have imagined this moment. Age, 59, singing the intro to Money For Nothing at Madison Square Garden, looking out to a sea of camera phones lighting up eleven thousand smiles. The 85 performances prior to this one seemed like mere warm-ups as the drums kicked in and Mark’s angry, hollow-toned Les Paul fired up on 11 out of 12 cylinders. Then, BANG. That riff. What made it all the more poignant was that in the audience tonight was Neil Dorfsman. Neil engineered and co-produced the album Brothers in Arms and it was he and I who went back into the control room one evening after dinner in Montserrat in December 1984 during recording and added the ‘Dinosaur’ synth part to a track which was destined for the bin. The next day, Mark heard the new energy and added the guitar riff and the rest is as we say, history. We all came back on stage, this time with Bonnie for the second encore , ’Wherever I Go’. OMG at MSG seems an appropriate statement…it was beautiful.

Nothing could be more appropriate as we ran our final song of the evening. ‘Going Home. None of us wanted to. The after show party was nothing but joy. All the guests were blown away by the show. Too many names to mention and as usual, never enough time to say hi to everyone. We were soon ushered out by the tired MSG staff and we all piled into the vans and headed for the hotel and a final session at PJ’s pub, open ‘till 4am, around the corned from the hotel. As I write this on an ageing British Airways Boeing 777 midway across the Atlantic, all that remains for me to say is THANK YOU. I mean of course thank you to Mark for enabling this astonishing collection of gentlemen musicians to shine in a way that couldn’t happen anywhere else. Thank you to the fantastic crew who really do ALL the work. We just gallivant around on stage having a ball. Thank you to all our families and loved ones who have supported us throughout and allowed us to be away from home for the best part of 6 months. And of course, last but by no means least, thank you to the fans, to every single one of you who bought a ticket, and came to a concert, sometimes more than one. Your support has been well and truly appreciated by every one of us. As for what happens next, let’s not worry about that now. Let’s just relish this moment and enjoy life with music in it because ‘a life without music, is no life at all’.

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.

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Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 22nd September 2019 – Los Angeles CA

The history of the Los Angeles Greek Theatre dates back to 1882, when Colonel Griffith J. Griffith, came to America from South Wales to seek fortune in gold mining. Colonel Griffith settled in Los Angeles and purchased the Los Feliz Rancho, which he later donated to the City of Los Angeles in 1896. This three thousand acre gift to the residents of Los Angeles was given with the intent that Griffith Park would be made an ‘eternal place of public recreation’.

Here, as I write at 33,000 feet, on our way to New York after last night’s show at the Greek, we find ourselves crossing the Rocky mountains, this time in an Easterly direction. It’s always bumpy at this point so fin d myself correcting many typos, apologies if I haven’t caught thm all. I can’t help thinking about the poor travellers affected by the Thomas Cook collapse. Yesterday, Britain’s biggest oldest and largest global travel group went into liquidation after a slow-motion downward spiral that started in 2006 when the company’s handling of an incident when 2 children died of carbon monoxide poisoning on a Thomas Cook holiday in 2006 was sorely criticised. The lure of cheap holidays and air travel mean that currently nearly 600,000 customers are affected by the announcement, many stranded. Thankfully the British government have stepped in to assist repatriation as best they can by laying on homeward bound flights across the globe. 

Eastbound, we said goodbye this morning to Los Angeles, Santa Monica and the fabulous Casa Del Mar. Our stay there has been as enjoyable as it always is. It’s difficult not to enjoy a beachfront location and beautiful secluded pool area, with weather to match. Of course this building is well known as being the home base for the Synanon drug rehabilitation program in the 70’s and 80’s. There is a permanent reminder of its former status as when drawing the curtains in the morning, inevitably you will see some of the local homeless population waking after a night under the palms on the beach. People struggling with mental illness or substance abuse issues and who are living in encampments are often the most visible, but it is a myth that people experiencing homelessness decline help or prefer to live outdoors. The incongruous luxury of a beachfront room seems less so as I find myself watching the morning routines of some of the guys as they roll up their sleeping bags and towels. I reluctantly break the spell…It’s show-day morning, I decide to have one final attempt at ticking that Huevos Rancheros box properly so Laurie suggested we head for the Mexican Restaurant a couple of blocks away on Ocean Avenue. Success, at the final attempt.

Great breakfast demolished, it was time to consider the day ahead, and what a day. The Greek Theatre is one of the most iconic venues of the tour and even though we’ve played here many times, it still holds such respect from the band. It is LA after all. We left the hotel mid-afternoon and found that the drive wasn’t too interrupted by traffic. Sundays in LA can be unpredictable but the 10 freeway was smooth running. The day was hot and the gear covered with space sheets to protect it from being baked.

Retreating to the basement area of the Greek, the band were to be found in catering where Steve was overseeing the presentations. The food was absolutely excellent, in contrast to last time we played here, I seem to recall. At 5pm, we headed for the stage which was now just about coming into some welcome shade as the sun dropped behind the hill beyond which lies Griffith Park. My attention was drawn to a peculiar tree which appeared to have many small boxes attached to it. It turned out to be a 4G repeater, not a tree at all. A completely man-made lookalike with dozens of transmitters enabling locals, park-goers and Greek-goers to receive adequate coverage. Prior to the existence of this tree, there was none, the locals being the ones who complained the most. They got their wish to the detriment of Glenn and Gavin on the crew who battled with interference in some of the acoustic instruments. Of course, by the time we arrive, most of these issues have already been solved. You’d just never know. I’m just nosey, so I find out.

Every sound check is as useful as the one prior, Mark and I were just discussing this. The band dynamic is such that it’s only by playing in some of these tunes at the venue before the show that we can really deliver the way that we… at least think we do. Judging by the audience reactions, we seem to be doing ok. It will never be perfect of course, even after 85 shows.

Even after 85 shows. My god. Here we are, right at the tail end of a remarkable tour. Just one more after tonight, seems impossible to comprehend. Obviously so many mixed emotions that we all choose not to think too deeply about it all. The diaries are there partly for that reason, research, reflection and reality.

Knowing there would be so many friends and guests in the audience, the band always comes to a Greek stage with something extra, it’s human nature, and the energy on stage tonight was as perfect as the weather. One thing that was a little unexpected was the crowd. LA audiences are expected to be quite challenging, one of the most knowledgable musical crowds in the world is often subdued and contemplative. Not so tonight. What a reaction, right from Paul Crockford’s extravagant entrance and introduction belted at full volume in full Union Jack jacket regalia and Ianto’s 1, 2, 3, 4, count-off, they were UP and they stayed up. all in all it was quite a night, one to be remembered for all time, at least our time.

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.

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Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 21st September 2019 – Phoenix AZ

During our stay in Santa Monica, I’ve struggled to tick the Huevos Rancheros box satisfactorily. Our favourite old breakfast spot, ‘M Street Kitchen’ has sadly disappeared, gone the way of many restaurants on Main Street as rate increases force everyone but the most successful business out. We ate at ‘Cora’s’, another ancient Mexican cafe on Ocean drive that has managed to stay in business simply by charging the earth for everything. Their Huevos Rancheros was sadly lacking and hideously overpriced. We’ll never go there again I fear, but good luck to them anyway.

Each run we make to the airport in LA is a tense affair as traffic can be quite insane, but management’s decision not to use Van Nuys as we have in the past seems to be paying off. Today’s trip to Lax, accompanied by what I call ‘Brake Wah-wah’, where the driver is incapable of braking smoothly instead, was pretty quick. Once at the Signature aviation terminal, we decided to pass on ramp access as it involved too much paperwork, and with the band’s legs being fully functional, we simply walked the 30 yards to the jet.

Sushi was waiting on board and our journey across the Southwestern part of the US was long enough for Natalie to take her time. I gazed out across the vast, super-heated plains of the Sonoran Desert and as so often on these American adventures, wondered about the early settlers and how they navigated these great distances in such treacherous circumstances. The heat down there is clearly intense, as it was in downtown Phoenix itself, today the high was a moderate 95 degrees. Naturally I chose to wear shorts. This was my big mistake.

Every building in Phoenix has air conditioning. It’s a necessary requirement here and when we pulled up and got out of the cars, the outside temperature was lovely. Inside the building was a shock however. Apparently, when the crew loaded in this morning, it was 61 degrees. Our production boys requested it be raised as it’s simply unnecessary. By the time we got there it was 64. It felt freezing on stage and not being used to these drastic changes, I got quite a chill which lasted the whole evening. My nose eventually started running during the encores. Shit, not a cold. Not now! As we all know, being sick on the road is no fun at all. As soon as I was back at the hotel, I was in bed and under the covers. As I write this, thankfully it didn’t develop. Massive relief.

Running through the show, we really relished the lovely audience who were intent on listening to every nuance we offered, they were polite but extremely generous in their appreciation. We had such a lovely gig and the sound on stage was perfect. It’s hard to imagine we’ve done this show 85 times now and only have 2 more left. We’re tired but not tired enough to stop. We love this too much.

There were two things I’d never seen before that occurred today. The first was on the way to LAX, I saw a bus shelter advertisement sign that stated in large letters ‘Mass Shooting Insurance’. Everything about that message is depressing. On a lighter note, on the way to Phoenix airport after the show, during what was officially our final ‘runner’, Glenn spotted a restaurant called ‘Welcome Chicken and Donuts’. Chicken inside a Donut, as our driver explained is an acquired taste. My thoughts were ‘for a Chicken, things are never going to end well, but I’d still hate to end up inside a Donut’.

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.

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Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 20th September 2019 – Santa Barbara CA

The day off we enjoyed in Santa Monica at the Casa del Mar was mostly spent lying by the hotel pool in glorious late Summer Californian sun but in the evening, Laurie and I had a wonderful meal with Eric, her brother and his wife Leslie at the terribly trendy ‘Elephante’ restaurant nearby. The food was quite stunning, the sunset was beautiful and we celebrated the life of their brother David who sadly passed just a few weeks ago. Eric brought along one of his bottles of Opus One which he bought in 1986. The restaurant decanted it and over the following hour and a half, we enjoyed the taste explosions as the wine took on oxygen from a world 33 years on.

Hardly a moment goes by now as this tour, all-too-quickly, draws towards its conclusion, that we don’t thank our lucky stars to be here and in this band and the next few days will be as much a celebration of life as it is of music. Long may it continue.

Every day seems to be perfect right now as I draw the curtains and look out across the Santa Monica Beach, people carrying surfboards towards the water, including Laurie, who treated Tim, our tour manager to his first surf lesson. Tim did well, managing to stand, first time out. He may have the bug.

Beautiful Santa Barbara, there are few places on earth more picturesque, and each time we visit, it’s easy to understand why you’d want to live here. Flying into the airport on our short hop from LAX, you can drool at the exquisite properties overlooking the water with their secluded swimming pools and tennis courts. Many of the Hollywood greats have chosen to live here.

Our journey was quick, a speedy whizz down to LAX, well not as speedy as we’d have liked as LA traffic is quite notorious. Onto the jet for a 21 minute hop up the coast then into cars again for 15 minutes to arrive at the Bowl for 4pm.

With sound check scheduled for 5pm, we waited until then even though the crew were ready as the sun was full on the stage. We don’t mind a bit of UV but the instruments get very temperamental. The outdoor Barbecue was here once again, just like four years go…to the day!’ The chief BBQ man was cooking Tri-tip, chicken and Salmon. It was sublime. Laurie decided to drive up as we had guests from back home who have a place here, Pippa Blake and Gordon Roddick. It was so nice to see them as the backstage area became quite a scene. Our old friend Bobby Colomby (Blood, Sweat and Tears drummer) was here too as was Michael Keaton, a big fan, with whom it was lovely to chat. What an amazing talent.

Leaving the guests to chat, we realised there was a show to do and we had to get ready. We went on at 7:45 and unsurprisingly had a fantastic time in front af an exuberant Santa Barbara welcome. The evening was perfect as we left the stage and headed back to Santa Monica.

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.

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Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 18th September 2019 – Berkeley CA

Hearst is a name which reverberates through the publishing world as William Randolph Hearst Sr. made his name developing newspapers and media. His flamboyant methods emphasised sensationalism and human interest stories, the journalism we all know today. His life story became the core inspiration for Charles Foster Kane, the lead character in Orson Welles’s film ‘Citizen Kane’. The Greek Theatre in Berkeley, on of the most magnificent in California is know officially as the ‘William Randolph Hearst Greek Theatre’ as its construction was financed entirely by Mr. Hearst. It opened in 1903.

Every visit here is memorable for so many reasons. The audiences in this part of the States are tremendous, the exclusive promoters here, ‘Another Planet’ are hell-bent on making sure all artists have a great visit and the catering in the basement backstage area is seriously second-to-none.

Across Elliott Bay, the haze this morning was thick and rain was in the air. The outside temperature had dropped noticeably since yesterday, it was time to leave Seattle. We’ve had an amazing 6 nights here, drunk quite a lot of beer and had far too much fun… and it’s flown by, as everything seems to lately. A sure sign we are having the time of our lives.

Readying bags, I zipped up my brand-spanking new Briggs and Riley Spinner case. My previous one actually developed a rare crack due to extreme baggage handling (not Peter) so I emailed them and they immediately sent a replacement. One of many reasons to buy Briggs and Riley bags. Lifetime Guarantee! If they can’t fix it, they replace it. No quibbling. We left the hotel at 2pm and headed to Boeing Field airport and got on board the plane for our trip down to Oakland. It felt like a long way compared to recent short hops to and fro.

Sliding into the SUV, Mark and I headed off, briefly stopping for a few fans outside the airport gate, running with their LP’s for Mark to sign. Mark obliged as he always does when possible but there were the inevitable e-bayers in amongst them, Peter asking one guy what his favourite song is, he simply couldn’t answer.I’ll say no more. Soon we were at the gig, straight downstairs for soup and a barista coffee courtesy of Berkeley’s own ‘Peets’ coffee. Delicious. Sound check was swift and we prepped ourselves for an early show. 7pm I believe it said on the tickets.

The gate count was only 50% at 6:50 so we held until 7:20. Even then the place wasn’t full but Mark decided we would go on and play out the intro a little. Mark, enjoying being quite chatty with the audience this evening and in between verses in the first sone, he singled out the lone guy with a camera light on. It’s amazing, even though he was filming, he didn’t realise it was him. The rest of the crowd respected the band’s wishes and filmed without the ‘headlights’ on for the rest of the night. And what a night it was. This place totally rocks. It was all over too soon of course and we were back in the cars and on our way to the airport leaving behind a din I’ll never forget. We could have played all night. Back onboard, we headedSouth once more, bound for LAX and a short drive to Santa Monica where our beloved Casa Del Mar hotel awaits. Our penultimate hotel stay of the tour. What a day.

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.

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Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 16th September 2019 – Vancouver BC

Gastown was in fact the original Vancouver. Named after a Yorkshire seaman known as ‘Gassy’ Jack Deighton, a steamboat captain and barkeeper who arrived in 1867 to open the area’s first saloon. One can only guess as to the origin of his nickname. Our journey to Vancouver today involved us crossing the US/Canadian border twice as we have been hubbing from Seattle for the past 5 days.

At 2:15pm, we were all ready to leave, passports in bags, in the Four Seasons lobby. The regular autograph brigade were waiting outside, as always. Some of the e-bayers wait around all day for an opportunity. I’m not sure what to think about that. We left in convoy with Mark, myself and Glenn in  the ‘Fletch-mobile’. Our driver’s Christian name is Fletcher. The talk was of yesterday’s Seattle Seahawks win various other NFL quarterbacks. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs and Aaron Rodgers of the Packers in particular.

Stunning conditions for flying prevailed as we pulled up alongside the aircraft. I snapped a quick selfie with Fletch. On board, Natalie was ready with a speed service. Turkey subs and lettuce wraps. No sooner had we climbed to our cruising altitude, we descended into Vancouver International airport.

The Orpheum theatre is the permanent home to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and there were many items and photos of their concerts here. Dating back to 1927, the then Vaudeville house was the largest theatre in Canada. It is certainly showing its age but has clearly seen many touch-ups and renovations, the most recent a new set of toilets in the basement dressing rooms. There was plenty of space for us all to stretch out, unusual in most old theatres of this size.

Once again, Steve Bond made sure catering was up to scratch, he rejected the bread, made a trip to whole Foods and remade the soup. Sound check was moved forward as one of our backline crew, Ben Byford was sick and needed a doctor. Thankfully, nothing serious and he made the show with a thumbs up to me as we left later on. We took to the stage at the agreed 8:15 but there was a potential issue lying in wait. The US immigration offices in Seattle were set to close at 11:30 for a shift change so we needed to arrive before that time. It meant that to be safe we shortened the set by one song. So sorry Vancouver.

We had such a great time up there, maybe the knowledge there are a mere 5 shows left after this one focuses our energies. The audience were beautiful, rowdy, excitable, respectful and slightly annoyed by the security who made their presence very much known. Towards the end of the show, an excited room full of people, who were bursting with joy had their fun dampened as the team with earpieces and furrowed brows refused to let anyone dance in the aisles. I was concerned as we do brief all venues pre-show BUT, I also learned later that it is the law that aisles must be clear at all times in these venues. So all in all, they were right. I did notice some of the security clearly, secretly enjoying the band.

Night rain accompanied our swift but safe, 30 minute ride to the airport. we climbed aboard and Natalie dished out plates of Spicy Noodles with Pork with dizzying speed. Tim helped her serve the ravenous band and once again, we were descending and sipping delicious mouthfuls of Sokol-Blosser 2011 Pinot Noir. we arrived at the Immigration building and parked up at 11:20. The immigration lady came on board as we were filling in our landing cards and said “oh, you don’t need to do all that, just come on inside and we’ll get you processed”. She was an absolute delight, efficient and charming, an illustration of how a welcome into America should be. We got to the hotel before midnight, just missing the closing time at Pike’s. Fortunately, the Irish bar across the road, slightly scuzzier, stayed open until 2am. 7 of us closed the place, the slightly blurry selfies revealing accurately the exact emotion of the band. Happy and Fuzzy.

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.

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Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 14th 15th September 2019 – Woodinville WA

Chateau Ste, Michelle winery is probably Washington’s largest and most successful but what sets this place apart are the outdoor concerts which take place throughout each Summer. Producing over 2 million cases of wine each year, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot, and Riesling, the winery has been in existence since 1954. Over the years, many Washington winemakers have gotten their start working for Chateau Ste. Michelle. Promoting these concerts for 25 years now, Dave Littrell has looked after us many times here and his invitation for golf the other day was both kind and memorable. The dressing rooms are housed in a separate house from the concert area, lovely rooms, great kitchen, dining area and a collection of several beautiful Dale Chihuly glass sculptures.

Here we are with only a handful of shows left on this incredible trip. Coming now toward the end of the season here, we were all looking at the forecasts carefully. Remarkably, and considering it’s been so wet in Seattle this week, our 2 shows here were both dry (almost). Show 1 was overcast, humid and we managed to get through the set dry but as soon as we started the encores, we noticed the rain coming. This seemed to excite the crowd as opposed to dampening spirits. Our driver this week, whose name is Fletcher (we now call each other ‘Fletch’) said that people from here LOVE rain and respond with joy when they get wet. Rather like plants. “Seattle, You’ve got to love the rain”.

As soon as we left the area in our customary ‘runner’ the heavens opened and the rain didn’t let up until the crew arrived to set up the gear again for show number 2. Our crew are hugely experienced and know all too well the havoc adverse weather can wreak on our instruments so they literally stripped the back-line and put everything back on the trucks. Whilst they were doing that, the band were back at the downtown hub-tel, and ready to walk across the road to one of our favourite pubs on the road, the Pike Brewery. The beer is just perfect, especially after a gig, particularly one called ‘Nellie’.

The next day we all wok to a typical Seattle morning, low cloud and perpetual rain. The view across the sound was a wall of grey but as the morning went by, it started to clear and by the time we arrived at the winery, it was dry. The gear was all set up and we decided not to sound check. The catering is always top notch and not having really eaten at all, I dived into a fabulous home cooked Paella.

Evening was upon us once more and doors opened at 5pm. Mark asked Mike and John if they would play an opening set, just as they had done in Turin. They obliged and played a mesmerising folk set of around 30 minutes. John, rushed back to the house, where the dressing rooms are located and still found time to prepare everyone’s Lemon, Honey and Ginger teas. Yes, we still do that!

As the clouds dissipated, I decided to take a few selfies with the band, the thought of not seeing these guys in a few weeks compelled me. We took to the stage once more to what was now a lovely evening. No rain even threatened. It was humid though, which made guitar necks a little sticky. An occupational hazard for outdoor shows. That explains the talcum powder often seen on the back of Mark’s Les Paul necks.

Under clear skies we romped through the set, the European contingent were here in full force and were determined to enjoy themselves in the front rows, no doubt adequately lubricated on Chateau Ste, Michelle’s finest offerings. Lovely to see. Before we knew it, we were in cars again and heading back into Seattle where Pike’s bar waited. It was only 9:30pm when we headed out which left us 2 and a half hours before closing time. Dangerous!

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.

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Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 13th September 2019 – Portland OR

Portland, Oregon is one of my favourite places to come in the US. Partly a fascination with the Hood River (a tributary of the Columbia River) and its nuclear wind potential and partly everything else. ie. Beer, Wine and Roses. (Portland is often known as Rose City) It’s difficult to fly into Portland from the North, in daylight and not notice the range of Stratovolcanoes that form a line known as the Cascade range. The first one into view on the Port side of the aircraft is Mt. Rainier at 14,410ft. It’s a breathtaking sight even from the ground and is clearly visible even from Seattle. Then next up on the short trip today is the awesome Mount St. Helens which of course erupted in cataclysmic fashion on May 18th, 1980.

The difference between the appearance of the volcano pre-that date, and now is stark. The remains of Earth’s awesome energies clearly visualised. It is photographed below with Mount Adams in the distance. Then comes the beautiful Mount Hood on the South side of the Columbia river. Being the windiest spot on mainland America, it is a popular windsurfing destination, a location I have yet to experience. Of course it was windy today but without a day off in Portland, there’s no chance. I had arranged to meet my windsurfing friend from here Tim Ortlieb and his lovely wife Layne. Tim distributes Ezzy sails across the mainland so we always have a lot to chat about since that’s what I use. Dave Ezzy makes the best sails ever. I’m not biased. It’s a fact.

Our day off was in fact yesterday in Seattle and I had an invitation to play a round at the beautiful Sahalee Country Club with Dave Littrell, who promotes the St. Michelle winery shows we are playing this weekend. The weather was spectacular and the golf was quite good, though I say so myself. I had so much fun and walked away with one birdie and many pars. Not bad for a 15 handicapper on a tough PGA course. It was such a relief to be indoors today for sound check in Portland after the battle in Utah. We enjoyed the sound of the theatre and our system before I rushed out and met Tim and Layne. Also in town was Russ Rosner and Susan Sokol Blosser from the Sokol Blosser winery who kindly donated a few bottles of their finest. We opened a 2013 Pinot Noir on the plane after show. It was utterly delicious.

With just enough time to get changed, have the tactical coffee and readied for the show, we commenced action. Another classic show which flew by as all good things seem to do. The band left the stage and stepped outside where the cars waited to take us to the plane. There were a few autograph hunters who couldn’t understand why we didn’t stop and sign. The reason is we are in ‘runner’ mode. Sorry but we don’t stop at these times. As I’ve said before, Mark will always try and stop and sign autographs, even at the FBO terminal BUT, and I must emphasise this, never when we’re eating and we do not entertain e-bayers, ie. folks who are not real fans and will sell items on e-bay and of course, haven’t been to the show. Pete came across one guy in Chicago who denied being one so Pete asked him to name one MK song. He couldn’t. Or the guy who swore it was his guitar so Pete asked him to play something. He couldn’t. Sadly they ruin it for the real fans.

Night flights of short duration pose a challenge for Flight attendants serving up dinner but this 15 minute hop was no problem for Natalie as she plied us with a Latin platter that was sumptuous, especially accompanied by Sokol Blosser 2013 Pinot. We all look at each other and shake our heads, “where did it all go right?”

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.

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Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 11th September 2019 – Salt Lake City UT

Unbeknownst to us, tonight’s show was going to turn out to be one of the toughest of the tour. The weather in Denver was gorgeous and after the Oxygen-starved, euphoria of a Red Rocks show, it was time for me to visit Target once again and replace my dysfunctional Fitbutt Charge 3 device. As expected, no problem, except that they didn’t have the black version, so I took the other one, a worrying shade of purple I discovered when I got it to the room and unboxed it and thought, “yuk”. No time to return it yet again, so I thought… “I can do that tomorrow in Seattle”, plus, they carry the black in stock. I checked. I love America like that, you can return goods to stores in cities a thousand miles apart. In the meantime, there was a show to be done in between these two important Targets. Salt Lake City, home to the progeny of the great exodus of the Church of the Latter Day Saints (LDS) in 1847. The fact that the Mormons crossed the Great Plains to the East and then negotiated the Rocky Mountains with their two wheeled, hand-pulled, wagons, seeking a refuge to safely practice their religion away from the violence and the persecution they had experienced in the East, is thought provoking, especially as we cruise across America and Canada at 32,000 feet..

Take-off from Denver was swift and we climbed and headed West across the Rockies. There were thunderstorms ahead and Chris and Gary kept the bird as stable as they could as we hit the customary turbulence, experienced every time we take this route. It was 7 out of 10, bumpy although if you were to ask Natalie, she’d probably only rate it a 4. I say this as she continued to serve a delicious Lobster Cobb Salad, unhindered. We soon pulled through the grey and gazed at the vista the travellers saw when Brigham Young, the Salt Lake Valley, president of the church exclaimed…”This is the right place, drive on” back in 1847, albeit from a greater altitude. The boys took the aircraft into approach and we swung around the great Salt Flats, so colourful in the afternoon sun. Touchdown and we bundled into the limos for the drive through the city to the University campus and the venue, the Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre. We played here 4 years ago and we all recall the rain. It didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits though.

After an extensive sound check, we retired to the cramped dressing rooms and had a bite, catering was lovely. We’ve been looked after so well on that front, Steve Bond may have had something to do with that! We soon dressed for the show and a few of us stood outside the dressing room area and noticed the temperature dropping, not unusual as the sun was setting. Pete came along the corridor and said, It’s cold and getting colder, so we all added an extra layer. We finally took to the stage at 7:45 and everyone in the band immediately knew, we were fucked. It was freezing. The temperature had dropped further and there was now a cold breeze from the North which whistled through the stage with ease as its rear was open. By the time we got to the end of the first song, ALL our hands were numb. The extra layer was a futile attempt and did no good for any of us, with the exception of Danny who donned his French puffer jacket. Even the Galvin Green golf top I ran and got halfway through the show didn’t make much difference. I wondered if Mark would make it through the show as he was the one exposed to the worst of the breeze, at the front of the stage. Totally exposed.

Hardly a bar went by without some silent exclamation of pain from the band as fingers simply refused to operate in the unknown conditions. Everyone had to adapt to ‘plan B’… whatever that may be. The crew did their best to A, stay warm themselves, and B, bring on hot bottles and towels for the bands, hands. If we had spent a minute and actually gone out and witnessed the audience wrapping up in their winter gear we might have acted accordingly. It wasn’t exactly the scene in ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ where the North eastern seaboard freezes, but it was simply, very cold. The look of shock on everyone’s face when we came off from the main set confirmed no-one got off lightly. Jim, Richard, Glenn, Mark, Mike, John, Tom and Graeme all struggled with inoperative digits for the whole show. Mark’s hands couldn’t even hold a cup of tea, which Steve so cleverly provided. We piled back on for encore number 1. We rocked as hard as we could as it was our only way to generate some warmth. Then we came back on for the final number and go through it unscathed. The end couldn’t come fast enough, I’ve never thought that before, and we were back in the limos with the heating on full blast. The 30 minute ride was only just enough to bring our body temperatures back to normal and as we got on board the plane, I was still shivering. It took me another hour before normality was restored. 2 hours later we descended into Seattle. It was a day that felt like a week. Time flies, sometimes.

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.

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