2019 News

Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 9th May 2019 – Zürich

May 13, 2019

Standing in the general aviation terminal, commonly referred to as ‘GAT’, Paul Crockford demonstrated his impressive fiddle technique to an unimpressed John McCusker. A possible future folk tour line-up? Whatever that future may hold, we said cheerio to Bordeaux and squeezed into a van to be taken to the ‘Joyjet’. 9H-JOY is her tail number. On board was a light Carpaccio lunch for a rare ‘travelling’ day off. Regular readers will know we usually fly after shows in order to be in the next city, fresh and ready to play on show days.

We were heading for Zurich and what is unanimously our favourite touring hotel, The Dolder Grand which overlooks Lake and city of Zurich is a cut above others with possibly the best spa in the known universe. Built in 1897, the luxury hotel was renovated in 2008 by a team led by British architect Norman Robert Foster. Only last week, The Dolder also became the first luxury hotel to accept crypto currency in the form of Bit coins as payment. Such luxury naturally comes at a price and with a standard room service Club Sandwich and French Fries weighing in at 49 Swiss Francs (43 Euros), hotel checkout can be a nervy prospect.

In the evening of our travel day, the majority of the band assembled in the main hotel bar and made short work of local draught beers. I suggested we eat in the cheaper of the two hotel restaurants (the other one has two Michelin stars) and went to book a table and grab a menu for perusal. Upon short examination, it was clearly way beyond the means of mere musicians’ so I suggested Club Sandwiches for all in the bar. You only live once.

Surroundings as we ate were slightly surreal as the evening’s entertainment in the form of a Geordie pianist/singer arrived to serenade us with his repertoire of ‘standards’ that inevitably included Sultans Of Swing. We were his only audience in the dark, sparkly cabaret bar and we generously applauded every attempt as we all, to a man, have ‘been there’. We devoured our Club Sandwiches which were quite tremendous, almost worth the money.

Show day in Zurich and most of the band spent some time using the spa facilities before we assembled and headed for the Hallenstadion. Now we must have played here ten times now both as DS and MK. Ben Byford is photographed here replacing a rattling microphone on my Leslie cabinet which was noticed by many band members during the last show. Sound check was fun. We were working on a slightly altered approaches in ‘feel’ to ‘Done With Bonaparte’ and ‘Why Aye Man’. If any fan buys more than one USB recordings, it would be worth noting the differences before and after Zurich. Which reminds me, I need to listen to some mixes. Another great show, our tenth, possibly our best to date and an audience that relished every note. Thank you Zurich.

 

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

Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 7th May 2019 – Toulouse

May 13, 2019

Morning sunshine pours relentlessly through a small gap in the poorly drawn curtains, committing me to fully fledged membership of the day ahead. I creak out of bed, half blinding myself opening the curtains fully and head to the outdoor pool over which the room looms. Completing my, wait for it, ten lengths, I lay back on a towel and top up on natural vitamin D, direct from source.

Every extended stay in a country hotel is special but this has offered unusual levels of serenity. The band depart, re-energised, in convoy once more to Bordeaux airport where we take a very short hop to Toulouse. Tijana, our flight attendant served up lovely, small Charcuterie plates which were despatched without hesitation. On the ground we headed for the Zenith and as we have done at the entrance to every venue so far, Mark stopped the car to sign a few things for some particularly faithful fans. A signature Les Paul AND a now pretty rare Martin ‘Ragpicker’ acoustic were waiting for Mark’s ‘actual’ signature. Mark happily obliged.

Recollections of Toulouse are hazy although the Zenith seemed familiar once we rolled into the backstage area. The Toulouse Zenith is another typically French, acoustically friendly arena. A swift ‘Google’ revealed we were last here eleven years ago and the place doesn’t appear to have changed at all in that time.

Congas? How hard can they be to play? We should ask Mike McGoldrick. Today before sound check, Danny Cummings gave him a lesson upon which I eavesdropped. As is often the case with seemingly simple things, there’s a whole lot more to it than you think. Danny of course makes it all look so easy.

In ear monitors were a revelation when we first used them back in 2001 but the advances that have been made in recent years are something else. We now use ‘Ultimate Ears’ UE7 Pro’s. They are extraordinary. The whole band love them and now that we have no amplifiers or cabinets on the stage at all, apart from our two Leslie cabinets for the Hammonds, the sonic potential is huge. It’s a long way from anything we’ve used in the past. I think we also now have a PA to match. That would appear to be the case, certainly if based upon the audience reactions this evening. Merci beaucoup, Toulouse.

 

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

Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 6th May 2019 – Bordeaux

May 13, 2019

Vineyards extend in every direction in probably the most prestigious winemaking region in the world. Bordeaux is certainly the heart and hub of wine production in France. Today we found ourselves in another brand new arena, which opened only a year ago. Once again, superb facilities and a beautiful, acoustically designed hall. A luxurious rarity for touring bands. Sound check was lengthy as we wanted to run a few things we’re not currently playing in the set, to keep them fresh. We did, however, insert ‘Brothers In Arms’ in the show for the first time on this tour.

It was soon time for us to vacate the stage so our first support act of the tour could sound check. Juke Ross, originally from Guyana, has a dusky, captivating voice and is quietly making a name for himself in the singer/songwriter world. Backstage, catering was gearing up for dinner service with another selection of unmissable dishes and desserts. In the production office, Manager Paul Crockford had his curiously swollen knee packed in ice and up on the desk. He’s seen the doctor and it’s nothing serious. In true showbiz fashion, it didn’t deter him from his duties and MC at the beginning of the show, kicking off the evening in his own inimitable way.

New technology surrounds us on this tour, none more so than our PA system. Dave Dixon, our Front Of House soundman is at the helm of the brand new L Acoustics L-ISA multidimensional PA array system. It’s a long way from Stereo and unlike a traditional layout, it is based on a horizontal arrangement of loudspeaker arrays that are distributed across – and often beyond – the full width of the stage. This Frontal configuration relies on overlapping coverage so that as much of the audience as possible hears all the arrays. A Frontal System consists of three systems: the Scene System, subwoofers and the Extension System. The venue this evening was the perfect host for such a system and the audience was clearly captivated for the duration. Except, of course, for the encores where they were allowed to stream to the front. There were many familiar faces in amongst the happy audience in the front rows.

Speeding away from the Métropole Arena in Alex’s ’S’ Class with the rest of the band in close pursuit, Mark, Glenn and I all agreed on one thing. We had a great time up there. There were some wonderful moments with Mark enjoying more freedom in his playing than ever before alongside this musical magic carpet ride of a band behind him. Arriving at our glorious country hotel where we’ve been hubbing from for the past few days, I suggested une petite soirée in my room. Pete, AKA Saint Peter, had pre-prepared a couple of bags with wines, beers and glasses for such an occasion. It was a full band turnout, that required some improvised seating. Dr. Fletch is back in business… now fully armed with the new Orbitsound E30 Dock, a studio quality compact speaker with Airsound technology. It has multiroom WiFi, wireless charging and USB-C fast charging, the DOCK is a little powerhouse of technology that looks, feels and sounds superb. Here’s the evening’s playlist –

 

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

Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 5th May 2019 – Pamplona

May 13, 2019

Against a backdrop of blue, the city of Pamplona appeared on the horizon as we approached from the North. AGUR is the ‘traditional’ Basque word for both hello and goodbye, somewhat appropriate I thought, for this evening. It has been 27 years since our last visit. Our shiny, new venue was only finally inaugurated on 29 September 2018 despite being 9 years under construction. The Navarra Arena nonetheless, impressive as well as extremely accommodating to touring crews with full access and ample space behind the stage for trucks. What did strike me as odd, was the seating on the floor. It was as if it might have been an afterthought….

Garden chairs were deployed, lined up and strung together with ‘cable ties’. After so many years in the build, you would imagine someone might have considered floor seating. Maybe they did!? However, we were made to feel very welcome and the staff and security were courteous and efficient.

Unusual flavours is something we are accustomed to on recent tours with resident chef Dave Eskinazi today producing a particularly ‘killer’ dish of Giant Red Gambas with Atlantic Cod in a delicate broth and Saffron Potatoes. As usual with notable culinary presentations, after finishing, I head for the kitchen to quiz Dave about the creation of the dish. I asked if he used Pernod in the broth as the French do, he said, not Pernod but Pacharán La Navarra, a sloe flavoured liqueur drunk in this region. I headed for the dressing rooms along with other band mates, thus avoiding further temptations.

Running of the bulls, as it is known, is the practice in Spain and other countries, of the audience rushing to the front of the stage at some point during our shows. Last night it was quite clear that the security had misunderstood our briefing as no one was allowed to do this. That was a shame but it didn’t appear to dampen spirits in any was as the audience was spectacular, as they have been for every show we have played in Spain. It is with immense sadness to think we are at the end of an era. Spain has been somewhere we have loved visiting over many years and the people have always been very special. “Eskerrik asko denagatik” – “Gracias por todo”. We were soon being delivered to the aircraft after a very swift security check at the airport. Drinks were waiting and we were in the air before we knew it. Time moves so swiftly when the enjoyment levels are this high, it’s hard to grasp it all, but we try. Mark, Glenn, Danny and I clincked glasses and the toast from Richard and the seats behind us was “to the best days of our lives”.

 

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

LOCAL HERO PRIORITY BOOKING FOR MARKKNOPFLER.COM

May 8, 2019

Beginning Wednesday, May 8 at 12:00pm noon BST, there will be an exclusive 24-hour priority booking period for MarkKnopfler.com members for performances happening at The Old Vic in London from 18 June – 22 August, 2020.

To take advantage of this opportunity, head here at the time of the priority booking period. Create an Old Vic account, and then login using the promo code OVEARLYHERO to access tickets ahead of public sale. If you have questions, you are invited to contact the Old Vic box office directly at 0844 871 7628 or visit their website at OldVicTheatre.com.

Local Hero is based on the Bill Forsyth film. Directed by John Crowley with book by Bill Forsyth and David  Grieg, and music & songs by Mark Knopfler.

Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 3rd May 2019 – A Coruña

May 6, 2019

Celtic music is very much a part of Galicia and Asturias, two regions in the North Western corner of Spain and La Coruña is a beautiful town in the Galicia region. Mike McGoldrick knows more about that than anyone in the band as he regularly visits the region playing shows and festivals. Unfortunately, the band didn’t get to explore the area as we chose to spend our days off in Lisbon. Our intrepid crew, however, did stay in town enjoying a well deserved rest up. A few of the boys are pretty handy with a golf club too so they organised a round at a local course.

Exigently, we said our goodbyes to the much loved Four Seasons in Lisbon, a hotel we’ve luxuriated in so many times especially as each room has a balcony. We headed for the GA terminal once more where ‘Joy’ our Bombardier CRJ-200ER was fuelled and ready to go. Flight time was 1 hour and 3 minutes so a light lunch of Pulpo a la Gallega and a heavenly Pastel de Nata was perfect. Coming in across the beautiful fertile green landscape of Galicia, we landed in a light crosswind and were in the vans and on the way to the gig in no time.

Load in for the crew was not an issue as they had no travel the night before and we arrived to find them ready and waiting for the scheduled 5pm band sound check. We, however, were far more concerned with the coffee machine in the dressing room, unloading our bags of stage clothes from Lisbon, sorting laundry or getting completely distracted by the soup in catering which today was a quite ridiculous Potato and Onion concoction. Laurence, our keyboard tech rolled his eyes as I apologised for our slow appearance.

Tech note (please skip to next paragraph if easily upset by geekiness). My iPad issue has now been resolved. I’m running Lemur as a program changer and trigger app and we couldn’t find a midi interface that would charge the device whilst in operation. We tried several. The iConnectivity4+ delivered to us in La Coruna has done the trick. Still a little concerned by the occasional stuck note from the RD-2000, might swap it out for the spare next show although this evening’s gig was flawless.

I bumped into Stage Manager, Dave Hall and Rigger, Johnny ’Hotpants’ Ashton in one of the production offices. Johnny was doing something with three rather large tape measures. He explained to me how he measures the rigging points using these three colour coded, rather analog, devices. Fascinating. In the dressing rooms, we have many areas for the band to relax and as there are now eleven of us, this is no mean feat for any venue. Today we had two, quiet rooms with inflatable beds, a tuning room, two lounge areas and a ‘communal’ area where the wardrobe cases reside. We have one of these each, with drawers and hangers. Once Mark and I had decided on the slightly shorter set list for the show, enforced by a strict airport evening takeoff restriction, I headed for catering for a very healthy steak and then to a quiet room where I drifted off for at least an hour.

Cups of freshly prepared Honey, Ginger and Lemon tea were waiting in the lounge area courtesy of John McCusker who fulfils this ritual every evening an hour prior to show time. The healing, cleansing infusion is the antidote for all weary, creaking and wheezy musicians in search of an uplift before stepping onto the stage. At Ten PM precisely, we did exactly that and were greeted by one of the most enthusiastic audiences anyone could wish for. The Coliseum was full and the majority were standing on the floor. A wonderful, emotional night, lovely people. A very thoughtful fan left a lovely bottle of Ribiera wine with one of our drivers, which was handed to me during the runner to the airport. We made our slot and were en route to Bordeaux and it was Adios Spain, for now. Up next….Pamplona.

 

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

Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 30th April 2019 – Lisboa

May 6, 2019

Filling with warm Summer sunshine, the tiny hotel courtyard was the default assembly point for musicians as departure time drew near. Chris (our promoter) took the band for lunch to a local restaurant that I had visited on my time here preparing to record Vicente’s album. Incredible food once more, as you might guess. Just as coffees were being served, our tour manager Tim received a call from Pete who had gone ahead to the airport with our bags, we needed to get there ‘sharpish’.

Expansion has been slow at Cordoba’s tiny airport and when we arrived there, Pete was shaking his head. In a virtually empty terminal building, security were arguing amongst themselves as to which screening machine should be used for our suitcases. Best to stay out of the way whilst management handled things! We did have a departure slot which got pushed back due to air traffic into Lisbon. This is controlled Europe-wide from the ATC centre known as ‘Eurocontrol’ in Brussels. We made ourselves comfortable inside literally the only jet in town and the whole band fell asleep in perfect synchronisation.

Lisbon was only an hour away for us but for the crew buses and our six trucks it represented an overnight drive and a typical hold-up at the border. Nothing unusual, just added time which meant they didn’t arrive at the venue until 11am. Thankfully as our stage manager Dave Hall explained, the Lisbon local crew are hard working and efficient and the venue is a perfect place for a quick load-in as all trucks can be parked and unloaded inside the arena.

In 2005, on April 1st we played here and the gig was well remembered as it was the day that Danny Cummings saved the day. We had just finished romping around Australasia and drummer Chad Cromwell decided he could not continue on the tour so at extremely short notice, Danny stepped into a baptism by fire and remained our drummer for the next five years. As I’m sure those who have seen the show can see it’s great to have him back in the engine room playing percussion with Ian (Ianto) Thomas on drums.

Zoning out on a day off is essential and Lisbon offers much. For me it was an extremely windy round at Oitavos Dunes golf course with my new friend Miguel F. Sousa, president of the Portuguese Golf association. Miguel and I seemed to hit it off straight away and on day off number two, there was more golf, this time on the Quinta da Marinha course. The day ended with a relaxing 5 hour feast at the Mar do Inferno seafood restaurant on the waterfront in Cascais with Miguel, his lovely wife Marta and their two young boys. It clearly a popular spot with touring musicians as Metallica, who seem to have been following us around Europe walked in and enjoyed a day off band dinner there. I think I’ve had my fill of Percebes now.

 

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

Juke Ross

May 3, 2019

Mark is pleased to announce that Juke Ross will be opening for a selected few shows in London and France. 

“A singer/songwriter with a dusky warm voice and an infectious spirit of affirmation, Juke Ross hails from the small country of Guyana on South America’s northern coast. Picking up the guitar during his med school days, Ross began writing heartfelt, thoughtful folk-pop songs, one of which, the breezy “Colour Me,” quietly began to pick up steam on digital platforms. Not long after, he signed a deal with Republic Records in the U.S. and, relocating to New York, began recording new material, including the 2018 single “Fresh Roses.” “

 

 

Juke will be appearing at the following shows on Mark’s tour:

May 6 – Bordeaux, France (Bordeaux Arena)

May 7 – Toulouse, France (Zenith)

May 12 – Strasbourg, France (Zenith)

May 21 – London, UK (Royal Albert)

May 22 – London, UK (Royal Albert)

Jun 17 – Paris, France (Accor Hotels Arena)

Jul 15 – Nimes, France (Antic Arena)

 

You can listen to and follow Juke Ross here:

 

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCn4YUzEKjXeAy6DbePTrVBg

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3mDo5Nv0SWpslJe9HzA2xY

Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/juke-ross/1112539089

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jukeross/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jukeross/

Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 29th April 2019 – Cordoba

May 1, 2019

 

Dropping in on the beautiful city of Cordoba is something to look forward to and the opportunity to stay in town after the show meant we could meet up with our dear friend Vicente Amigo. Nine years ago, Vicente came to the same venue and saw us for the first time, which led to him calling upon me to produce an album using some of Mark’s band. ‘Tierra’ was recorded at British Grove with Mike, John and Danny from the band.

Under cloudless skies across central Spain, we departed the Villa Magna in Madrid, headed once more for our plane and a very short and sweet trip South. Daniella served up small plates of delicious seafood and we were taxiing at Cordoba’s deserted airfield before we knew it.

Early Summer is an unusual time for us to tour Spain but this meant that the temperatures were a lot more bearable than last time when I recall us needing to delay show time due to excessive evening heat. Nonetheless, it was pretty warm during sound check. Thankfully the stage was facing away from the direct sunlight, crew and gear being spared a direct solar assault.

No changes to the set but we worked on a few monitor changes and arrangement modifications during sound check. Then it was off to catering where I found Dave and Steve menu-building. The daily routine where the evening menu is created. Chef Dave stunned us all again. I went for the blackened Tuna on a Sweet Potato and Salsa bed. Insane.

Dined and rested with a quick disco nap, we started getting ready when Vicente came backstage along with Chris Ortiz, Vicente’s manager, friend and our promoter. Chris is one of those wonderful guys who simply makes things happen with minimal fuss, great to have as a friend. It’s always special to see Vicente and we chatted for a while before show time. Vicente and his music, exudes  ‘duende‘, a Spanish term for a heightened state of emotion, expression and authenticity, often connected with flamenco. The term derives from the duende, an elf or goblin-like creature in Spanish and Latin American folklore.

Evening drew in and the night was indeed young as the show got under way. The atmosphere in the bullring was electric and the show had many moments both dramatic, moving and frankly, scary. By the time we finished playing, it was truly hard to leave the stage. The noise was deafening and the emotion coming to us from this incredible audience, palpable. We left the arena and headed to our hotel in the middle of old town Cordoba, Chris and Vicente weren’t far behind and a typically Spanish late night session began. The bar staff eventually left us to it, Richard Bennett took over behind the taps.

 

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